Friday, February 8, 2013

A Modern John the Baptist

For each of us today in this world of ours there is an abundance of message in the two readings offered for use in today's liturgy.  In particular I offer to you the person of John the Baptist as presented in the gospel.  We witness his death, his decapitation.  We are reminded that John played a significant role in the life of Jesus Christ:  John announced his coming and John was sacrificed because of what he believed and doing all he could to bring the message that had been entrusted to him by Yahweh, by God.

Each of us today is reminded that through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation we are called to put on the mantle of the Baptist.  You and I, each of us, is called upon by God the Father to prepare the way of Jesus Christ in our communities, our families.  The lives we live and the willingness to stand tall for Jesus Christ is our mission.

Yesterday I concelebrated the funeral Mass for a friend.  The church was filled with more than five hundred people, mostly from Capitol Hill.  They came to honor the memory of one man who, as the Chaplain of the United States Senate said in the eulogy, gave him so much courage and strength through the commitment to Jesus Christ.  Mike Schwartz was a man for whom his baptism and confirmation meant something.  All who knew Mike recognized a contemporary John the Baptist.  I cannot image that there was a day when Mike did not prepare the way for Jesus in his work in the halls of the Senate office building where Mike served one of the US Senators.  There were young people and older people who came because Mike made the message of Jesus a part of his life, day after day.  There is no doubt that Mike was a modern John the Baptist.  Mike went forward proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ because he loved him.

We might ask ourselves "Do I like Jesus?"  And again ask ourselves "What is Jesus like for me?"  John made his pilgrimage for Jesus paramount in his life.  Is there a pilgrimage for Jesus in my life, in your life today?  Are we strong, like John, when we are challenged by invitations to turn our back on Jesus? Mike could say without any hesitation "I love Jesus and I know Jesus loves me."

And you?  And me?  Can we be as strong in our affirmation of our love of Jesus?  It was Mike's answer so strongly in the affirmative that brought so many hundreds of people to honor his life and mission.  It was Lou Gehrig's Disease that ended Mike's life but it was the same disease that has brought to so many people a recognition of one man's faith, one man's love of his friend, Jesus the Christ.