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The Word and the Voice
Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church
This is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Opening Prayer: Holy Spirit, teach me how to pray. I ask you for what you know I need. Let me encounter you in your greatness and acknowledge the truth of who I am before you.
- He Must Increase: St. John the Baptist teaches us a lesson about humility in this passage. His followers looked up to him, even to the point of wondering if he was the Messiah who would come. But John clearly knew his mission. He would point out the true Messiah, and he would disappear. In another Gospel passage, he said to his disciples, “I must decrease; he must increase” (John 3:30), as he was looking in Jesus’s direction. John the Baptist reminds us that one thing matters: not fame or glory, but that people encounter Jesus in us. If we have faith in Jesus, we have everything we need.
- The Voice: Jesus is the Word—the Word through which the Father created everything, the Word who became flesh to save us from sin. John the Baptist knew that he was not the Word. The Word was given to him. He knew himself to be merely a voice. But he knew that his calling was a very important and irreplaceable mission. God wants to use our talents, our gifts, and who we are to communicate himself to mankind, in much the same way John the Baptist did. Every morning we can offer the Lord our hands, our feet, our voice, and our heart so he can use them to point people to salvation. He is the protagonist, but he wants us to be part of his great story of salvation. What we do to spread the Gospel makes a difference in the eternal life of others.
- The Voice of the Saints: St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, whom we celebrate today, were, like St. John the Baptist, great examples of people who lent their voice to Christ. Both gave their life to God in the monastic life, but God called them to the episcopate. As bishops, they had to speak strongly against heresies of the time. When have you ever experienced God filling you with courage and wisdom to do his will? He wants to remind us that our mission is his work, not ours, and that he will accomplish it in and through us if we let him.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart more like yours. Today I renew my trust in your grace working through me, even when I do not see it. I could never take the credit for what you do in and through my life because I have experienced my own frailty, and I know the good that happens is yours.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will look for opportunities to practice humility and remember that you are the protagonist in my life and vocation.
For Further Reflection: Read the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) and reflect on Mary’s awareness of God’s power in her life.
Gaby Ruiloba is from Aguascalientes, Mexico. She consecrated her life to God in Regnum Christi in 2009 and currently ministers at Everest Collegiate High School & Academy in Clarkston, Michigan.
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