Today we celebrate the Feast of St John the Baptist. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect on our call as catechists. John the Baptist preached the coming of the Saviour in a selfless manner. As catechists we are also called to promote the reign of God in a selfless manner. John the Baptist was considered a prophet because he read the signs of the times and interpreted them in light of the scriptures. Hence he taught the people to live a life that was God centered. As catechists, we too are called to be prophets and help people live God centered lives.
As the Gospels tell us John the Baptist prepared the way for the coming of Jesus by preaching against the evils of the times. He baptised people with water announcing that “the Kingdomof Heaven is close at hand”, and he encouraged the people to repent and prepare their hearts for the coming of the Saviour. We are told that he lived in the desert and ate wild herbs to survive. This was his way of dying to self and giving his life in total service. Yet he knew that he was not the anointed one. He was not the Christ. He was only preparing the way for the Christ. He attracted large crowds, and when Christ came to him, John recognised Him as the Messiah. “There goes the lamb of God”, and John baptised Him, saying, “It is I who need baptism from You”. When Christ left to preach in Galilee, John continued preaching in the JordanValley. He was eventually arrested and beheaded.
What is there for us in this great feast?
The Church in her wisdom guides us through various ways. One such way is to put feast days before us. These days are meant to help us reflect and ponder the significance of the feast day and its relevance to our lives. By looking at the lives of people who lived before us we are provided with opportunities for introspection, reflection and dialogue with God. Many times through the lives of saints, people are touched and experience their call to religious life. In today’s world it is important for us, as catechists, to expose both ourselves and the people who come into our care, to the life of saints. In our modern world we lack role models who strive for virtuous living and so the saints are our teachers and guides.
As we ponder this Feast day we need to reflect on the times we live in and discern what God is calling us to as catechists in these times. Catechetical Ministry is one of the most important ministries in the Church because it is the foundation for all other ministries. It is the ministry that helps the Catholic person foster a relationship with Christ so that their lives can be transformed by Christ.
The world today poses many challenges for us. People are becoming more individualistic and materialistic and are distracted by many things in the world. Career choice is an excellent example of how people no longer allow God to guide their life’s journey, but economics. People no longer seek God’s will when choosing a career but settle for whatever offers the most money. Catechists are called to help people understand that God created us for a purpose and that we must fulfill that purpose to the best of our ability.
As catechists we should seek an encounter with Jesus through prayer and self sacrifice. We must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and like John the Baptist seek wilderness in our hearts where we can really encounter Christ. Through this we will be able to help others encounter Christ. This is a way of life that must be taken seriously and approached through intense prayer.
Catechists must be people of intense prayer. Prayer, says St. Teresa of Avila, opens the door of the soul for God to enter.
Like John the Baptist, we might not enjoy the fruits of our labour but we know we have laid a foundation for future generations to enjoy. The road will not be easy but it is important for us to focus on the coming of the Kingdom and pray for the grace of God to labour for it.
Catechetical work is a blessing and a unique vocation. Embrace it! Join the ministry!!
– Catechetical Office