"He will prepare a people for for the Lord"

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"He will prepare a people fit for the Lord"

By Fr. Emmanuel Gurumombe, SJ 

“Of all the children born of women there has never been anyone greater than John the Baptist”, says Jesus (Mt 11:11).

Today we celebrate the Birth of John the Baptist the one whose “mouth was like a sharpened sword” (Is 49:2) meant to open hearts to recognise sin in order to return the same hearts to God. The birth of Jesus’ precursor, who prepared the way for the Messiah and is the last biblical prophet in this regard, has a special place in the liturgy of the Church. Notably it is only the birth of John the Baptist besides that of the Virgin Mary and Jesus , that is celebrated in the Church because John is a special prophet. At the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, he singularly leapt in his mother’s womb upon recognising the Messiah who was in the womb of the Virgin Mary; he baptised Jesus at the river Jordan and pointed out the Lamb of God to the world, (Jh1:29).

John was the lone voice in the wilderness who prepared Israel for the coming of the Messiah. The fundamental preparation that he provided to the people was the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin, which is, however, different from Christian baptism, which forgives sins, gives rebirth and makes believers children of God. John’s call for repentance was targeted to curb sin. Sin hardens the heart and leads to disrespect for the truth, which consequently breeds selfishness. Repentance facilitates and prepares one for redemption. It creates the humility necessary for the acceptance of the truth. Let us recall here that Jesus says, “I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life” (Jh14: 6). Subsequently the first recorded words of Jesus in the gospel of Mark at the beginning of his public ministry are “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel ” (Mk 1”15). This is the exact truth that John pointed out to the tax collectors, soldiers and people in general (Lk3: 10-15). It was a call for them to cease their sinful way of life in order to make way for redemption.

The redeeming truth never finds a home in an unrepentant heart. May St John the Baptist pray for us, our politicians, our economists and social commentators so that all may have respect for the truth for our country to move towards economic and political tranquillity.

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