Important, but Not Self-Important

Today we celebrate the birthday of St. John the Baptist. We don’t decorate trees, send card, or exchange presents as we do on Christmas. But I don’t think that John the Baptist minds that his birthday is celebrated with less fanfare than that of our Lord. You’ll recall that he once said about Jesus: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

In fact, it’s thanks to these words that we celebrate John the Baptist’s birthday today. Because from this point on, daily sunlight will decrease until we arrive at the birthday celebration of Jesus, when daily sunlight will begin to increase.

John the Baptist knew that his mission was to prepare the way for Jesus. He lived his life, not to promote himself, but to promote the Lord. In this, John the Baptist is an important witness for us and challenges our society’s preoccupation with self-promotion. He reminds us that Christians shouldn’t aspire to be a celebrity, but should strive to be a servant. We should live lives that shout not “Look at me!” but “Look to Jesus.”

This is not to say that John the Baptist was not important. He was incredibly important! That’s why each of the four gospels begins the story of Jesus’ public ministry, by first telling the story of John the Baptist.

You and I may be called to positions of importance: in the workplace, in society, in the church. But there’s a big difference between being important and self-important. John the Baptist bears witness to that.

So happy birthday, St. John. Like you, may we live our lives, not for ourselves, but for Jesus.

Photo credit: Randy OHC via Creative Commons