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Father Muench Says...

Saluting John-the-Baptist-kind-of-people

Jan. 29, 2014

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, let us take a moment to remember St. John the Baptist.  For several weeks the Sunday Gospels are filled with stories about John the Baptist.  John lives his youth in the desert and establishes a good relationship with God. Somehow he recognizes a call to make the world a better place – and also realizes that the Messiah will soon come.  So he becomes an evangelistic preacher along the River Jordan using a baptism of repentance. 

John recognizes Jesus as the promised Messiah so he points out Jesus to his disciples and to others.  His dedication was this, “He must increase, I must decrease.”

John’s message was to call the people to repent – “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”
I have known many excellent priests who truly are in the image of John the Baptist.  Some think of John as a shouting kind of preacher, full of brimstone.  I don’t think so.  I think of him as an amazingly attractive evangelist who changed many lives and then led them to Jesus.  So when I think of a priest and preacher in the spirit of John the Baptist, I think of someone who leads others to Jesus in a special way.

My John the Baptist kind of priests and preachers are gentle, yet, challenging. They who reach out to encourage people to use well their talents as they discover life in Jesus. 

My list is long.  I hope that you also know and have experienced such priests in your spiritual life.

I am hoping that you recognize our good priests by seeing how well they lead you closer to Jesus, by their preaching and teaching, by the way in which they celebrate Eucharist, by the way in which they pastor their parishes. 

We have so many wonderful priests in this mode here in the North Country.  This is the spirit of John the Baptist.
I also know many – many laymen and women who live and work in the image of John the Baptist.  By the way they live each day, they touch others and lead them closer to Jesus.  What is important for them is how they live their lives.  We don’t need more preachers.  We need people who know how to live in the Spirit of Our Savior.  These are the kind of people that draw others closer to Jesus.  These are people in the image of John the Baptist.

Personally, I continue to find a great deal of hope and confidence in my own life as I watch the wonderful families in my parish.  There are so many that truly demonstrate a Christian loving spirit. 

Christ is a member and a guide for their families; they give others a model for being a Christian family.  These families give me the confidence that good things are happening – that the message of Christ is touching many.
I find a great deal of hope and confidence for the future in the many wonderful priests who are my friends and mentors. Their readiness to live well challenges me to be a better priest.  I pray that I may be a priest in the spirit of John the Baptist – doing all I can to bring others closer to Jesus.

Did you know that Pope Francis is on Twitter – check it out. Yesterday his message was this, “If we live the faith in our daily life – then our work too becomes a chance to spread the joy of being a Christian.”

I always notice that Pope Francis emphasizes the importance of spreading joy – the joy of being a Christian – the joy of having Christ as part of our lives. 

Sometimes when we hear the challenge of a John the Baptist to bring others closer to Jesus, we get the idea that this is a stern and serious matter and this is often reflected in that serious look on the face of some Christians. 

Pope Francis tells us that the best way to bring people to find Jesus and allow the Lord to be part of our lives is to bring into their lives the joy of Christ, the joy of being a saved person, the joy of being alive in the Spirit of Our God.

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