Jesus said to the crowds: “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” (Matthew 11:11-15)
Introductory Prayer:Jesus, my love and my life, I present myself to you on this day which is your gift to me. I choose to unfold my heart before you in prayer, and I ask you to instruct me with your love and example. Help me to apply to my life your Gospel words, so that you will discover only what pleases you: your loves, your criteria and your desire to give yourself for the salvation of souls.
Petition:My Jesus, help me to emulate the virtues of John the Baptist in his service to you. I know that I have received, like he did, many qualities and talents to be either used for you or wasted on myself. Christ, help me focus my life on you.
1. On Earth and in Heaven. “There has been none greater than John the Baptist….”: Jesus declares that John, in his human stature and qualities, far exceeded any man of his day. Of all the kings and prophets of old, none may be found with the same wisdom, will, character and human qualities, for indisputably there was none born for the same awesome purpose of being herald of the God-man, Jesus Christ. Abraham had carried on his lineage through obedience, Joseph had saved his family and nation from starvation, King David had led the People of God with power and might, yet none before or after would be called herald of God himself. Receiving so much, John despised it all, lived in the desert, and ate honey and locusts as his staple diet. He was a man who could have led many nations, or won himself high office or set up trade with great success. Nevertheless, he knew what was of the essence, and he invested his qualities in the one task given him by God to fulfill. His life was not about being great in the eyes of men, but of being at the service of the Great One––the One who would save mankind from their sins.
2. The Greatest in the Kingdom of God. “…Yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.” What makes men great in the eyes of God? John’s eyes were unquestionably focused on what makes men great. Only those who do what is pleasing to God will enter heaven, thus heaven was the central focus of John the Baptist’s entire life. Christ is the centerpiece of our reward in heaven. John, through his ministry of baptism and preaching, was preparing men’s hearts to focus their lives on Christ, and finally in turn, to gain an eternal prize of being able to focus on him forever and ever. To be in the Kingdom of God is of eternal value in comparison to the things of this world. John the Baptist was grounded on this principle. He chose to give priority to the things of God over the pomp and ceremony that could have been his had he chosen such a route.
3. Are You Willing to Accept it? John preached with mighty words to the point of entertaining dignitaries, soldiers and tax collectors; he wasn’t boring. Important people came to hear him speak. John’s message was one of repentance for personal sins and of believing in the future message of the Messiah. He had no message of his own creation. His message was genuine, sincere, and bold, as if coming from God himself. Yet some were not willing to accept it. All who did hear the message of repentance and renewal would become free. “Those who have ears ought to hear,” but they will not be forced.
Dialogue with Christ: Lord, how many times do I make decisions without you? I want to cast aside my pride so that I might spend my life solely teaching your love to others. I need your grace, for I can’t do anything on my own. Reach down to me in my littleness and raise me up to be great in your eyes. I despise the things of the world that attract me away from you. Bring me to accept your message of repentance in my life today and every day until I may join you in heaven.
Resolution: Today, every time I have a decision before me I will stop to weigh things from God’s perspective.