Today we honor St. John the Forerunner, the baptizer of our Lord Jesus Christ. He remains for me a favorite saint, perhaps because I grew up in a church dedicated to his memory – St. John the Baptist Church in Warren, Ohio. His willingness to speak the truth even to kings and when it cost him imprisonment and martyrdom has been an inspiration to me. He not only spoke the truth, but suffered for the truth, even suffering for the truth joyously.
In honor of St. John, I offer two quotes that I encountered in my own readings, the first from Alexander Pushkin, Russian author and poet who died in 1837.
And the voice of God called out to me:
Arise, O prophet, see and hear.
Be filled now with my will,
And traversing land and sea
Set peoples’ hearts on fire by the Word.
The second is a poem from Anthony de Mello:
Shout to Keep Safe—and Certain
A prophet once came to a city
to convert its inhabitants
At first the people listened
to his sermons, but they
gradually drifted away till
there was not a single soul
to hear the prophet when he
One day a traveler said to him,
“Why do you go on preaching?”
Said the prophet, “In the beginning
I hoped to change these people.
If I still shout it is only to prevent
Them from changing me.”
(de Mello, Anthony The Song of the Bird, pg 59)