In celebrating the birth of John the Baptist, we are back in the place where the way needed to be cleared and prepared for Jesus.
A wilderness had to be entered and a pathway made so that the Lord’s message could be delivered to all willing and needing to hear it. John was to be the one – the chosen one – who would do this work. People came to recognise in him, one with purpose and a sincere heart.
“Prepare a way of the Lord” was his cry and it came from a place of deep conviction. He knew that people needed to hear this message, be renewed and turn again towards their God – whom they had abandoned in search of other ways.
He assured all who listened that he was not “The Christ” and that, in fact, he was not fit to undo the sandal straps of the one who was following. There was no ego in John. He totally believed that his message was one of calling people to repentance and to a renewal of faith. There is much talk now about Ireland being a missionary country. It was once a country of missionaries but that day, it seems, has passed.
Where once we sent men and women from Ireland to share the “Good News” in far flung parts of the world, it is now the case that this same “Good News” needs first to be spoken again and believed again at home. Where do we begin? Where do we find prophets? Where do we find our voice? Only where John found it – in faith. We need to nourish our faith that it can truly nourish us. We need to be nourished that we can truly nourish others.