January 19, 2014 – Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

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John is pretty amazing. Even before Jesus came to be baptized John had placed himself in a life-threatening situation and was being watched by spies of both the Roman political leaders and the Jewish Religious Authorities. Later he would insult Herod publicly and be beheaded as a consequence.
The cousin of Jesus, John the Baptist was a rugged person who lived like the old-time prophets – residing in the wilderness eating locusts (aka really big grasshoppers) and wearing the itchy, tough leather of camels. It wasn’t that he wanted to suffer or make a show of his humility; he just took what was “at hand” and lived a life of simplicity and radical honesty.
John’s entire focus was diminishing himself in order to lift up and serve Jesus. In John 3:30, John says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
This is the attitude of blessing: Humility not for the sake of show but a genuine humility where our lives point to Christ with every action and word. Humility doesn’t seem to be on the quality checklist of very many people these days. I often discuss this with principals. “I understand school pride, but what would it look like to foster school humility?”
What would happen if schools went out of their way to serve their neighboring schools? What if we sent ambassadors to the neighborhoods around our schools or if every Catholic high school or church youth program had an after school outreach for struggling grade school students in their area?
We did that with gang-engaged young people just outside of Yakima, WA. At the time, it was the 11th most violent county in the United States. It made a substantial difference in the community and the lives of the students who attended the program, but even more in the lives of the students humbly serving others.
If that is too radical, how about making frequent choices for simplicity? Our Lord’s Prayer states, “Give us THIS day our DAILY bread.” Not bread for a week, a year or a lifetime. We live at a time when our most mundane choices are causing major stress overload in people’s lives. We wonder daily, “What will I eat tonight?” Yet, in pockets of our own country and around the world, some children simply wonder, “Will I eat tonight?”
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Live simply so others may simply live.”
What choices could I make today to simplify my life and humbly point others to Christ?

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