We used to jokingly say, “He got his license to preach from box tops, or a correspondence course, or paid for the diploma.” What was once fantasy is now real. A person can get a license to preach by filling out a form on-line. No experience necessary. Quite simple.
Such shenanigans were not possible in the old days. That’s why the authority figures questioned John the Baptist about his credentials. Everyone who was a priest or rabbi had to be certified by the proper hierarchy. John the Baptist was not certified; however, he had made a name for himself. His disciples were numerous. Since John was not interested in fame, fortune, or glory, folks could see the sincerity of his words. They were captivated by the possibility of starting a new life, being able to repent, and having their sins forgiven. The priests and the Levites were suspicious of John because he was taking away their customers. Folks were tired of the hypocrisy all around them, particularly from the clergy. John, on the other hand, was sincere. He practiced what he preached. Speaking the truth is what got John into trouble. He was beheaded for telling King Herod that he was living in sin for living with his brother’s widow. The truth is at times difficult to hear. Majority of people choose to keep quiet rather than offend others. Certainly, a safe choice, but not the way of the Gospel. Consider our history. Early Christians were willing to die rather than to deny their Faith. The original passion is often missing in our lives. We like to be safe, to go with the flow, to watch what we say. All well and good, except when the Gospel message is watered down.
We are all bombarded with moral questions on a daily basis. Controversy about what is right and what is wrong can divide families. Ideologies can take a powerful role, especially around election time. Which way to turn? Who’s got the correct answers? Google it. A world of information is at our fingertips. Are we any better? Has the benefit of information helped us? The answers we seek are not on the internet. Families are still the first school and should be the best school of life for children who will one day become adults. We are all products of our parents or lack of parents. Developmental years are crucial in the phycological wellbeing of any person. Comes a time when an adult must stop blaming the parents for their failures. God gave us freedom that no one can take away. We all have the freedom to be happy or to be miserable.
Taking responsibility for our actions is the first step to claim our mission. Like John the Baptist we must prepare the way of the Lord, never pointing to ourselves, but to Him. In essence, everything that we do is supposed to point to Christ. Are we there yet? Is our behavior worthy of helping us get ready for the Lord? If not, then change is in order. The priests and the Levites did not want to change, obviously by their rejection of John and what he was doing. John was hurting their income. What must change in our life? What holds us back from giving ourselves completely to Christ? Joy is made manifest when we are willing to let go. If we allow God to be in charge, everything changes. He’s in charge anyway. We want to wake up to reality. Countless distractions fill the air right before Christmas. We can easily be swept by the madness. Time to focus. Only one candle left to go. “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord.” The voice of one can make a difference. One voice can change our family, especially when spoken with love. One family can change a community. One community can affect the world. That’s how Christianity got started. That’s how Christianity continues. Now is not the time to keep quiet. The world hungers for the truth. We can be like John the Baptist.
We never have to settle for the way things are. We can be the change that we want to see.