Saints Not Celebrities

What the Church needs is saints, not celebrities. When I tweeted that this morning in reply to a comment someone had made, I was indeed thinking of St John the Baptist whose solemnity we keep today. I have blogged a lot about him in the past (do a search in the sidebar if you are interested in any of the earlier posts) so perhaps I ought to restrict myself this morning to a single thought. John could easily have become a celebrity: the wild holy man whom even Herod liked to listen to despite his uncompromising views could have become the first-century equivalent of some of today’s mega pastors. But he didn’t. He became a saint instead and met a martyr’s death. A passionate, joyful love of God marks everything he said and did. There is a tenderness and humility about John that those who concentrate on the garment of camel’s hair or the stinging rebukes to the corrupt and extortionate easily miss.

Love, joy, tenderness and humility: these are not qualities we associate with celebrities, but they are qualities that bring us closer to God. Locusts and wild honey are optional asceticisms. The real asceticism, the one that counts, is loving and faithful obedience: daily taking up the Cross and following.


7 thoughts on “Saints Not Celebrities”

  1. I think that John the Baptist has much to teach us about humility, particularly his comment that he wasn’t fit to tie Jesus’ sandals. But he was fierce in his evangelism and spared no ones feelings on their sin and impurity.

    But the offer of Baptism and a new life went along with it. His designation as the one who would sign post us to Jesus is one that perhaps we are all chosen to do and to be. I wonder how often we life up to the job description?

  2. My favourite passage concerning John the Baptist is where his followers come to him with a dispute and complaint about Jesus baptizing, and he replies “…this joy of mine is now full. He must increase but I must decrease.” John the Baptist knew his place in the scheme of things, and was not only willing to step out of the limelight, but was full of joy in doing so. He didn’t balk, didn’t try to hang onto his fame and notoriety, break away from God’s plan and form his own sect, but with joy put Jesus first.

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