Emulate the Forerunner—Sunday before Theophany

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, Amen.

You, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and I together are called to emulate the Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John.  The one who is greatest among all the prophets, of whom the Lord says “among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.” (Matthew 11:11, see Luke 7:28)  The Evangelist Mark, in quoting the Prophet Malachi, says “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way;” (Malachi 3:1) note my dear brothers and sisters, the messenger is before the face of God, that he is therefore in the presence of God, and goes out before him.

And it is this which we must emulate.  God says to you, and he says to me, “you have been in my presence: go out now and prepare a way for me even in the wilderness.”  Since the wilderness is that which is outside the camp of the Lord, outside sanctity, outside holiness, yet it is even there we must prepare the way of the Lord.  We can prepare it through prayer; if, when we walk somewhere, our walking is full of prayer we sanctify it, if, when we drive somewhere, the thought of God comes to our mind we make that place holy, if when we start our work, embark on a task, begin a lesson, set off on an errand, depart on a quest, if anything we do we do it with reference to God then we are emulating the blessed Forerunner by bringing all places to the knowledge of God.

We may think, my brothers and sisters, of the saints as those who perform mighty signs—who heal the sick and raise the dead—but the life and witness of the Forerunner is for us our model: he went to the wilderness of the world around us and simply pointed to Christ.  Let this be our calling, our path, our model, that these words of the Lord may be applied to each of us, “Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than [the Forerunner]”. (Matthew 11:11, Luke 7:28)

To our incarnate, crucified and risen God, Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, be all glory, honour and might, together with his unoriginate Father and the All-holy, Good and Life-giving Spirit.  Amen.

Timothy, my son, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
— Second Timothy 4:5–8

The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophets, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ John was baptizing in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
— Mark 1:1–8