by Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Wilburn
This is my favorite Christian day: The Baptizer’s Day, the day that is exactly six months from Jesus’ birthday – this is cousin John’s birthday. Why six months away from Jesus’ birthday?
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30
John is as far from Jesus’ famous birth as possible. We too should strive not for fame or glory, but as Terese de Lisieux said
He whose kingdom is not of this world showed me that the only condition worth coveting is “to want to be ignored and regarded as nothing, to find joy in contempt of self.” I want my face, like the Face of Jesus, to be, as it were, hidden and unrecognised. I longed to suffer and be forgotten. – Autobiography, p88
Jesus says of John:
I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. – Matthew 11:11-12
Ah, this is the great antinomy of the gospel: to be great one must be nothing, to be famous one must be slave of others, to be rich one must be penniless. Then, only then great sainthood comes.
This day we sit “shivah” with John in prison. Silent. Praising and praying. Contemplating the kingdom and Jesus that is yet to come. And… awaiting our death of glory.
May we die each day.