Did you ever spend a day in service to God and selfishly think to yourself, "I have done enough"? I admit that I have. And what a laugh our great St. John the Baptist must have had from his place in heaven. He must have roared out loud at my silly, selfish thoughts.
Here was a man who started his life -- before he ever saw the light of a day, rejoicing for Our Lord.
"And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.' " Lk 1:41-44
And when he grew, after having spent his life being groomed for greatness, for service to God, he went into the desert to prepare for his life's mission.
He lived in the desert, and prayed, and prepared for what was ahead.
The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel. Lk 1:80
He ate locust and honey and wore a rough garment of camel's hair -- for at least months, if not years.
"When John began final preparations for his mission, he was probably in his thirty-second year. He withdrew into the harsh, rocky desert beyond the Jordan to fast and pray, as was the ancient custom of holy men. We are told that he kept himself alive by eating locusts and wild honey and wore a rough garment of camel's hair, tied with a leather girdle. When he came back to start preaching in the villages of Judea, he was haggard and uncouth, but his eyes burned with zeal and his voice carried deep conviction." - EWTN
And as he came forth to proclaim his Messiah, he humbly proclaimed himself unworthy to untie his Lord's sandals.
Nihil sumus, nihil possumus, nihil valemus -- we are nothing, we can do nothing, we are worth nothing
"The rite of baptism, a symbolic act signifying sincere repentance as well as a desire to be spiritually cleansed in order to receive the Christ, was so strongly emphasized by John that people began to call him "the baptizer." The Scriptures tell us of the day when Jesus joined the group of those who wished to receive baptism at John's hands. John knew Jesus for the Messiah they had so long expected, and at first excused himself as unworthy. Then, in obedience to Jesus, he acquiesced and baptized Him. Although sinless, Jesus chose to be baptized in order to identify Himself with the human lot. And when He arose from the waters of the Jordan, where the rite was performed, "the heavens opened and the Spirit as a dove descended. And there came a voice from the heavens, Thou art my beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased" (Mark i, 11). -- EWTN
And as his punishment for being a faithful servant to our Lord, he, ultimately, lost his head.
- "At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, 'This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.'Now Herod had arrested John, bound (him), and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, 'It is not lawful for you to have her.'Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said,' Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.' The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother." -- Mt 14:1-11
O blessed Saint John the Baptist. Your life, from beginning to end was in service to God. Humbly, your prepared for your life's mission to God and, courageously, you proclaimed the need for repentance. Let your life and death be an example to all of humility and courage in the face of adversity. Pray for us, to have the strength to serve God always and the humility to do His will. Pray that I have peace in my heart, that I know I am doing My Lord's will. Amen