St. John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ with his life and witness….
According to Vatican News, Pope Francis suggested this during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, today, Feb. 7, as he reflected on today’s Gospel passage from St. Mark on the beheading of St. John the Baptist.
St. John the Baptist, Francis explained, was sent by God to show “the way of Jesus,” and moreover as the “last of the prophets,” the Pope added, he had the grace to say: “This is the Messiah.”
The Baptist’s task, the Holy Father said, was not so much to preach that Jesus would come and prepare the people as to bear witness to Christ and to do so with his life.
The Pope said that bearing witness to the path chosen by God for our salvation is the path of humiliation. St. Paul explains this very clearly in his Letter to the Philippians: “Jesus annihilated himself to death, death on a cross”.
“And this death on the cross, this way of annihilation, of humiliation,” the Pope said, “is also our way, the way forward that God indicates for Christians.”
Both John the Baptist and Jesus, the Argentine Pope reminded, had the “temptation of vanity, of pride”. After His fast, he recalled, Jesus was tempted by the devil in the desert. John similarly was tested before the doctors of the law who asked him if he was the Messiah.
While both had authority over the people and their preaching was “authoritative,” they also each had “moments of lowliness”, sort of “human and spiritual depression,” thinking back to Jesus in the Garden of Olives and John in prison, tempted by the “woodworm of doubt” whether Jesus was really the Messiah.
The Pope explained that John the Baptist, the great prophet and the greatest man born of woman, as Jesus regarded him, as well as the Son of God, both, chose the path of humiliation. And this is the path that they show us and that we Christians must follow, the Pope said, stressing that the Beatitudes indicate the path of this humility.
Reminding one cannot be “humble without humiliation,” the Holy Father invites Christians to learn from the day’s Gospel.
Pope Francis explained that when we try to draw attention to ourselves in the Church and in the community in order to have a position or something, it is the way of the world, a worldly way, which is not the way of Jesus.
Francis warned that this “temptation to climb” can also happen to pastors, adding this is an injustice he cannot tolerate.
“If a shepherd does not follow this humble path, he is not a disciple of Jesus,” Pope Francis said, criticizing, “he is a climber in a cassock.”
Pope Francis concluded, inviting faithful to not be “afraid of humiliation,”and encouraging them to cease opportunities to be more humble in order to follow the Lord better.