Thursday, December 21, 2017

Bishop’s Note: December 21, 2017 – Authenticity and Humility

Bishop Eric Menees

A blessed St. Thomas day to you all! St. Thomas is often much maligned as the “doubter.” But, in fact, he was a terrific disciple credited with bringing the Gospel to India.

Throughout the season of Advent, we’ve heard John the Baptist call out from the bank of the river Jordan… “John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.”(Mark 1:4-5 ESV) Why was John so successful in his ministry? Why did the people respond to him with such enthusiasm coming from the whole “country of Judea and all Jerusalem?” Because John was the real deal! John the Baptist displayed all the marks of a true disciple.

This week I’d like to focus on two of those defining marks of discipleship that John the Baptist demonstrated – Authenticity and Humility.

John the Baptist lived authentically, not only speaking the Word of God but also living the Word of God. Scripture tells us that he lived in such a way that he relied solely upon the provision of God the way the prophets of old did.  St. Mark tells us... “Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.” (Mark 1:6) John called the people to repentance – to turn away from their sin and to return to the Lord.  But more than simply calling people to repentance he offered them the promise of forgiveness of sin – to be washed in the river Jordan. 

John the Baptist also displayed great humility – not only in his humble dress and lifestyle – but also by understanding his place in the scope of things. John consistently pointed to Jesus – as we all should! “And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:7-8) We know that John’s prophecy came true three years later at the Feast of Pentecost.

Equally as important even when being swamped with praise and popularity John consistently pointed people to Jesus… “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore, this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:28-30)

Authenticity and humility are hallmarks of any disciple of Jesus Christ. My prayer for you and my prayer for me is that we will demonstrate these virtues the way that St. Thomas and John the Baptist did this Christmas season and throughout the year!

I pray you all a very Merry Christmas!

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