Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 82, 98 (morning) // 80 (evening)
In today’s gospel, a quarrelsome group of people tries to rile up John the Baptist. They come to John where he is baptizing, and they look across the river to Jesus, who is also baptizing people. It seems that John’s active ministry of baptizing people is on the decline, whereas people have started streaming to Jesus. They point out Jesus to John and say, “here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”
Instead of becoming jealous or territorial, John gives the people an analogy for his own ministry: He’s kind of like the best man at a wedding. As John puts it, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled.” John’s joy has been fulfilled and his ministry has achieved its purpose when he can stand beside Jesus Christ (the groom) and hear him pledge God’s love to his people (the bride).
Today we celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist, and perhaps we can also take up his model of ministry. Instead of seeking a greater following for ourselves, we can serve as attendants at the celebration of love between Christ and all people. We can act as witnesses and offer our support; we can stand beside others and share genuinely in their joy. Whether or not we’ve ever been a bride or a groom, a best man or a maid of honor, today is a glorious day to play a part in the loving union of God and God’s people.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.