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The Passion of Saint John the Baptist (Memorial)
When Herod heard John speak, he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. (Mark 6:20)
When was the last time you met a passionate person? Maybe that person had a new baby or grandchild. Maybe the person was excited about a new project he was working on. Perhaps she was on fire for a new ministry or volunteer opportunity. Something about him or her emanated excitement. He radiated joy and enthusiasm. She just couldn’t stop talking about the object of her passion. And it was contagious.
Today’s feast refers to the “passion” of John’s martyrdom. But John certainly displayed another kind of “passion” as well: enthusiastic devotion. His love for God and hunger for Israel to return to righteousness drove him to live an ascetic life in the desert, preaching repentance and baptizing people to prepare them for the coming of the Messiah.
John wasn’t passionate about attaining comfort or fame; he only wanted to point the way to Jesus. And as happens with anyone with passion, people were drawn to him.
Even Herod couldn’t stay away from John. It’s quite revealing that even though John zealously condemned Herod’s actions, Herod kept coming to listen to him—even in the prison of his own palace! John’s passion for the truth, for loving and serving God, was like a magnet drawing the king. That’s what passion does. It attracts other people by its enthusiasm and love.
Jesus wants all his disciples to be passionate, to be bursting with his life. He knows that our own zealous pursuit of him can be a catalyst that draws people to him. So let Jesus set a fire in your heart today. Spend time with him; get to know him better. The more you experience his presence and his grace, the more excited you will become about him. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done; Jesus is attractive enough to melt—and ignite—every human heart. Let him fill you with his love so that you will overflow to all the people around you. His light shining through you is the best possible testimony!
“Lord, fill me with passion for you. May my life draw everyone I meet to you.”
1 Thessalonians 4:9-11
Psalm 98:1, 7-9
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