“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’’ —Luke 7:27
You could call this the “Week of John the Baptist” because every Gospel reading this week is either about John the Baptist or refers to his role and relationship with Jesus. Until a few years ago, I had never given a whole lot of thought to him, probably because I wasn’t sure what it meant concretely to “prepare the way.”
Then I got an email out of the blue from my freshman college roommate, Tisha, whom I hadn’t heard from in years. She was writing to thank me for being John the Baptist for her all those years ago. She wanted me to know she was preparing to give a talk about her faith journey on an upcoming parish retreat. Two of the questions she was asked to address were, “Who has been John the Baptist for you?” and “How did that person prepare you for a deeper relationship with Jesus/God?” She said that I came to her mind because of all the late-night conversations we had in our dorm room about what we believed (or didn’t believe), but more so because of how she saw me and my friends living our faith. Towards the end of our freshman year, Tisha started attending the 10:00 pm Sunday mass on campus with us. Our sophomore year, she decided to become Catholic, and she asked me to be her RCIA sponsor.
Now, 20 years later, Tisha volunteers as a retreat leader hoping she can be John the Baptist to others. Her email was a pleasant surprise to me, mostly because I had never consciously thought of trying to “prepare her” for Christ, much less convert her to Catholicism. Still, God used me as a channel without me even realizing it. As Tisha described it, my friends and I demonstrated to her that “You will know they are Christians by their love,” and she wanted to be part of a community like that. Now she is.
For action: Who has been John the Baptist for you? If possible, reach out to tell them that and thank them today.