24 Jun 2024  |   04:50am IST

The virtuous path of St John the Baptist

Glen Fernandes

Every festival has a distinct spiritual essence and meaning that are ingrained in the customs and beliefs of the people who celebrate it. One of the most common festival is the Sao Joao Festival, celebrated with vibrant parades, joyful music and colourful traditions. The Sao Joao Festival, also known as the Nativity of St John the Baptist celebrated on June 24th, has its roots deeply embedded in Christian tradition. 

However, there is growing concern that the festival has become overly commercialized, overshadowing its spiritual essence. Rituals that were once intimate and spiritually enriching have now become public spectacles aimed at attracting tourists and generating revenue. Finding a balance between commercial and spiritual aspects of the Sao Joao Festival is essential to celebrate it meaningfully.

John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus Christ who played a crucial role in in the New Testament and served as the herald of Christ, “a voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord'” (Mt 3:3). His life and witness serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of humility, repentance and a steadfast commitment to the truth - even in the face of adversity. John the Baptist’s witness for Christ was rooted in his unwavering faith and deep spiritual insight. 

Let’s embark on a transformative journey by considering the important qualities of John the Baptist that can have a significant impact on our own witness for Christ.

HUMILITY: St. John Baptist was humble. He did not seek any glory for himself but led the way to God. In humility, he decreased his preaching as Christ increased. John was obedient to Jesus. In his humility, he did what Jesus asked of him for he recognized Jesus as the Messiah. We are called to emulate his profound sense of humility and selfless devotion to the message of Christ by redirecting our attention away from ourselves and embody the selfless devotion. True greatness lies in acknowledging and serving a purpose greater than oneself.

COURAGE: St John was courageous in living out our faith and sharing it with others. He did not just share about Jesus with others, but he warned them of what was to come. He did not sugarcoat anything and boldly proclaimed the need for repentance. He was unafraid to confront the moral failings of his time, even when it put his life in danger. His fearless confrontation of King Herod’s unlawful marriage ultimately led to his imprisonment and martyrdom.  Courage is standing firm in one’s beliefs and values, even in the face of adversity.

LOVE: John the Baptist’s steadfast dedication to his mission demonstrated his love for both God and people. His desire to see people made right with God and living according to his will was the basis of his call for repentance. His life served as an example of selfless love that prioritizes the welfare of others. Love is at the heart of genuine service and sacrifice which involves seeking the highest good for others, even at personal cost.


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