Memorial of the Passion of St. John the Baptist

John the Baptist is a hard act to follow, but he is a good role model for monks, he lived in desert places (Lk 1:80).  He was a man of prayer who taught his disciples how to pray (Lk 11:1).  He fasted often (Lk 5:33), abstaining from wine and living on an austere diet of locusts and wild honey (Mk 1:6). He practiced self-renunciation saying, “He must increase and I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). He proclaimed the need to share one’s goods with the poor (Lk 3:10-14). He was truly seeking God, waiting for the One who was to come (Lk 7:18-23). He was celibate, and lived in poverty. And he was attentive to the Word of God, quoting by heart from the prophet Isaiah, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’ ” (Jn 1:23). From the warm safe little cell in his mother’s womb to the dark dangerous cell in Herod’s prison, John the Baptist was a monastic prophet who wept and interceded for his generation as we try to do for ours today.

In Christ, we are all called to be priests, prophets and kings. Even a lawyer can be a Christian prophet!  When a large pharmaceutical company stopped using mice for their lab experiments and started using lawyers instead, they were asked why and replied: “First, there are more lawyers than mice. Second, our scientists don’t get attached to lawyers the way they do to mice. And third, there are some things that mice just won’t do!

Like John the Baptist, we are called to be prophets who weep and intercede for our generation. We know that widespread disbelief about the value of human life in the womb has already caused grievous sufferings for our most defenseless little ones in wombs that are no longer safe. As prophets for our times, we believe that repentance, a change of mind and heart, is the way to heaven, because Jesus will forgive every sin, even abortion.