The Birth of John the Baptist

Dear Bertha,

What a beautiful tradition!  Taking your aspirant’s uniform on today’s Feast has a lot of significance.  It shows that what you are “aspiring” to as you enter a religious community is much different and much more than what your friends are aspiring to as they begin their new jobs.  Let me explain.

John the Baptist played a special role in the history of salvation.  He was the last of the prophets, those mysterious and inspiring figures singled out by God to announce his plan and his will to the Chosen People.  All the Gospel writers give ample space to John, to his words, and above all to his martyrdom.  He was the Precursor; the one who prepared hearts and minds for the coming of Christ.  His life wasn’t about himself, but about the One who was to come after him.

Your life as a consecrated soul will be exactly the same.  God has shown a special predilection in calling you to dedicate your whole being exclusively to him and to his service.  You have always been – in God’s mind – an irreplaceable link in the long chain of salvation history; now, through your consecration, you are more like a furnace that will forge many more of those links through your prayer, poverty, chastity, and obedience.  Like John, God will send you to prepare hearts and minds for the coming of Christ, of his grace, his voice, his call, his love.  You are a matchmaker, bringing Christ into contact with his beloved souls, and bringing them into contact with him.  And you will do that the same way John the Baptist did it: emptying yourself more and more of all selfishness, and filling yourself more and more with the light of Christ.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it won’t be easy.  You will have your own martyrdoms, if you want to be faithful to what Christ asks of you – just as John did.  But God will always give you the strength you need to live them with love, and fortitude, and elegance.  You have only to remember always the reason you are where you are: God has called you; in the midst of the frenetic world enslaved by sin and angst, he has set you up as a shining witness to his Kingdom of peace and meaning.

Thus the great wisdom of having you receive your aspirant’s uniform on today’s Feast.  It will motivate you to take John the Baptist’s motto as your own: “He [Jesus] must become more and more, I must become less and less.” (John 3:30)  If you emblazon that on your heart, you’ll soar like an eagle to the heights of holiness (which coincide with the greatest joys one can experience in this fallen valley of tears).

Don’t forget to pray for your imprisoned uncle as you launch out on your new adventure.  He’ll sure be praying for you.

With high hopes,

Uncle Eddy

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