The unselfish love like John the Baptist also marks us as disciples of Jesus.
John the Baptist was a man who was completely absorbed in the Person of Jesus Christ. He had only one mission and that was to point out Jesus to others. In fact, we cannot even think of John the Baptist without thinking of Jesus! That sounds like a very heroic, even romantic, form of life. What a beautiful vocation, and indeed it was.
Nonetheless, his heroic and unselfish life ended with what can scarcely be called a bang. His death was almost ludicrous. He was destroyed by a petty ruler, the pawn of an unscrupulous and evil wife who allowed himself to become trapped by the lewdness of a dancing girl. Such is hardly the stuff of which heroes are made. How could the great herald of the Lord become the victim of people who wanted to destroy him? The truth is that even a heroic life is engrossed in the trivia of human existence.
We have been called to be disciples of Jesus Christ. This calling is a great privilege, but we should not allow a false romanticism to obscure our vision of reality. For the most part, our lives will be rather ordinary and even humdrum. Unselfish love like that of John the Baptist must mark us as disciples of Christ. That kind of love is expressed in the simple, practical ways suggested in today's first reading hospitality to strangers, care for prisoners, honor in marriage. The kind of love described in Hebrews differs from eros love, the love of passion and feelings. It is different from agape love, the unconditional love shown in service to others, even those who differ from us. It is the love of philia, a mutual love - the love of companionship and friendship. It is the love of people who stand with you and beside you through the changes and difficulties of life - through thick and thin.
Second Peter describes philia love as "mutual affection with love" (2 Pt 1:7). Such mutual love is found in Our Lord, Whom Hebrews quotes as saying to us all, "I will never forsake you nor abandon you" (Heb 13:5). Through the changes and circumstances of our lives and the life of the Christian community, Jesus remains steadfast. He strengthens us in our daily call to live with one another. In today's Responsorial Psalm, we acclaim, "The Lord is my light and my salvation" We seek God's presence! Take a few moments and reflect upon agape love - unconditional love that reflects God's love. Think about this question: When do you witness God's presence in you and in others around you?
Yes, the unselfish love like John the Baptist also marks us as disciples of Jesus. Our lives may never appear romantic or heroic to others, but they can be very worthwhile if they are pleasing to God!