On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a lesson in humility – Luke 2:21-24

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a lesson in humility – Luke 2:21-24


John the Baptist has clearly defined his ministry as simply ‘a voice that cries in the wilderness.’ He is emphatic, he is not the Messiah, nor Elijah or a prophet. As a voice he has a message to proclaim not a mandate to execute.


In today’s Gospel, John bears testimony to Jesus. On seeing him approach the river where he was bearing witness, he declares him to be THE LAMB of God with the power to take away the sin of the WORLD. In order to understand the power of these two words in today’s text I suggest you read a reflection that I wrote some time ago. You can do so by clicking this link https://www.pottypadre.com/sharing-the-stage-of-salvation-history/


But for today, I want to focus on a very practical reflection that we can take away. Each of us has a mission in life. This mission comes with a title and a tenure. The title or tenure serves as a reminder of the mission we are called to serve or the time frame in which we can execute the desired goals.


The Prime Minister has a tenure and a title that defines clearly a mandate or mission and a time frame in which his election manifesto is to be fulfilled. The Holy Father has a title but not really a tenure as he is Pope (which translates as father) for life. There are endearing titles like mother that are not instituted in a ceremony but comes by virtue that birth is given and that mission is for life.


St John the Baptist has a title with no fixed tenure. His title was that of being ‘the voice’ but his tenure was unsure. He took on a role but had no clue when it would end. John 2:29 tells us that the day after he encountered the Levites and priests who wanted to know who he was, Jesus walks into the scene. In that one verse, the mission of John ends. The curtain falls on John’s ministry. There was no notice period nor any time to pack and move off the stage.


Yet John does not throw up a fuss. He does not ask for a farewell party, a thank you speech or a gift of appreciation. John has done what he was sent to do. Think how differently our world responds to positions and power. Heads of government change the law to stay at their post. We are reluctant to let go of our posts even when age and health have become impediments to our work and ministry. The clammer to stay in some post of power, even though these posts are really ministries of service, is shocking and even more shocking when this drama plays out in the Church.


When I think of one such ‘John the Baptist’ of our time, I think fondly of Pope Benedict XVI. He may have had his fair share of critics and haters but when it comes to the matter of his humility to step down as Supreme Pontiff, there is no better example for us as Christians to follow. He did not abandon his post, he simply realized that his mission and mandate was done and that God had moved his heart to take a decision that left Catholics and much of the world in shock.


May God grant to us all who sit in places of responsibility the grace to move on when our mission and mandate is over. May God give us the grace to recognize that he has sent someone greater than us to take on the baton of ministry. May God grant us the humility to accept the things we can’t and the grace to let go…

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