Annibale Carracci, St. John the Baptist Bearing Witness, ca. 1600



BY: Fr. Mike Olumba.


HOMILY: Tell John that I fulfilled all that Isaiah (in the first reading of today) said of me”.

And he adds: “Blessed is he who is not scandalised on account of my life and my style. Blessed is he who is able to overcome the incomprehensible aspect of my life and work and thus able to keep faith in spite of all these. Blessed is the one who is able to enter into God’s will and thus able to follow God in his path and not rely simply on his understanding of God’s way and will”. Jesus added this phrase for he saw John almost about to lose faith in him. This phrase was also for the disciples of John in dilemma probably at the doubts expressed by John, their master.

4-Eulogy For John the Baptist:
When the disciples of John left, Jesus probably watched them leave until they disappeared from sight. Then he spoke to the crowds in eulogizing John the Baptist:

-When last time you heeded the call of John in the desert, what did you go to see?

-Did you go to see a blade of reed, a fragile plant, an unstable light leaf blown around by the wind, subject to the vagaries of the wind and opinions, uncertain of his positions? Certainly no!

-Did you go to see a man dressed in luxurious dress, comfortably adorned? Certainly no! Men who dress as such are found in kings’ palaces not in the rude environment of the desert life and its rough and frugal experience.

-What then did you go to see? A prophet! Yes, indeed more than a prophet. The Prophet per excellence. He was the one who other than proclaiming the coming of the Messiah, had the privilege of pointing him out in the crowd; “Behold the lamb of God…”. “Truly, I say to you, of all those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he”. Jesus subsumes the Old Testament into the “order of nature”, “of all born of women”. Of all in the “order of nature”, John is the greatest. Thus, John closes the Old Testament and the lineage of others in the “order of nature” as the greatest. This is the eulogy of John as sung by Christ. (But the least in the “order of grace” inaugurated by Christ, is greater than John).

The Church under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit did not fail and has not failed in her turn in heaping praises of the divine work in the life and in the person of John the Baptist. Thus, one of the Prefaces of John the Baptist reads:
It is truly right and just,
our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.
In his Precursor, Saint John the Baptist,
we praise your great glory,
for you consecrated him for a single honor
among those born of women.
His birth brought great rejoicing;
even in the womb he leapt for joy
at the coming of human salvation.
He alone of all the prophets
pointed out the Lamb of redemption.
And to make holy the flowing waters
he baptized the very author of Baptism
and was privileged to bear him the supreme witness
by the shedding of his blood.
And so, with the powers of heaven,
we worship you constantly on earth,
and before your majesty
without end we acclaim:……

The readings of this Sunday, from Isaiah, James and the life of John the Baptist teach us: Patience, endurance and waiting on God.

After planting, the farmer has to wait for nature to take her course. One cannot hasten this. Like the farmer and cultivator who do their duty, and then wait on nature and her processes; so we are sometimes, or rather often called to wait on God.

Let this teach us Patience with God, Patience with others and Patience with oneself.

In all that happens around us, the good, the bad and the pure evil; Fight the much you can for the good, but understand that God is still in control even when appearances tell us otherwise. He has his fixed time which may often escape our calculation and computation. Patience and endurance!

-Fr. Mike Olumba.

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