Jesus’ Testimony to John
Jesus in today’s gospel praises St. John the Baptist fully. He calls him greater than any person born so far as His tremendous tribute to the Baptist. But the praise is followed by this startling phrase Jesus says of him, “yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Why is this so? When I read the commentary of William Barclay about this gospel passage, I saw that Barclay gave one of the best explanations. Barclay told us that what was lacking in John was that he missed to see Jesus’ love for us as He revealed on the Cross. He added that the full depth of God’s love was something that John could never experience or know. In this sense, we are luckier than John because we and even the least Christians have experienced the Cross of Jesus and able to know God’s love more deeply. This is indeed an unmerited gift of God to us.
However, Jesus does not say that we are necessarily better than St. John. Yes we may be more blessed than he is but that will be of little benefit to us if we do not appreciate the love that God has shown us. You know one of our temptations is the danger of getting accustomed to our blessings. Like the world traveler who has been everywhere and seen practically everything, we are in danger of taking our blessings for granted and getting so accustomed to them that they fail to excite him as they once did. A proof that we have grown accustomed to our blessings is this spirit of criticism and complaining. Instead of thanking God for what we have, we complain about it and tell Him we wish we have something else. We can be sure that if God does give us what we ask for, we will eventually complain about that. The person who has gotten accustomed to his blessing can never be satisfied.
St. John has a role to play in God’s plan for our salvation and he fulfilled it heroically. He prepared our hearts to meet Jesus and to show us the way to a relationship with God which he would never experience in his lifetime. Like for example: he calls us for a change of heart, a change of lifestyle, a change of attitude towards God and fellow humankind.
St. John too calls us to put into action what we confess in words. For him it is not enough that we go to confession and confess our sins to the priests; utter some prayers of our favorite devotions and claim that we are Christian Catholics because we were baptized as such. He wants us to practice charity, to share food and clothes, to be honest, to be just and incorruptible. This is exactly what Jesus demands of us later on.
But what strikes me of St. John the Baptist is his humility. John, when the people came to him in order to listen to his teaching, can claim that he is the Messiah but he does not. He says that he even not worthy to untie His sandal’s straps. He just prepared the way of Jesus. When he saw the Savior, he pointed to Him by saying: “Behold the Lamb of God” and let his followers followed Him. One of them was St. Andrew who became one of the apostles of Jesus.
At the end let us reflect these words from Henri Frederic Amiel: “True humility is contentment.”