Our Bishop's Message

I take this opportunity to congratulate all those who have John the Baptist as their patron. He was an extraordinary saint and the celebration of his Jayanti itself is an extraordinary thing. For in the Catholic Church the day of a saint’s departure from the world is celebrated as his/her feast. The ‘Jayanthi’ of a saint is not celebrated. The exceptions are Jesus the incarnate Son of God, his most Holy Mother Mary and St. John the Baptist. His birth took place due to a special intervention of God as he had to be the precursor of the Anointed One. He was born to Zechariah and Elizabeth in their old age when they had already given up the hope of ever having a child. His birth proves the axiom: God hears all our prayers and in his time he makes all things beautiful.

John was a prophet of extraordinary humility. He had the respect and attention of the whole Jewish nation when he confessed that he was neither the Messiah, nor Elijah nor the Prophet. At a time when people were doing everything possible to appear before the world bigger and greater than what they were, he had the humility to say that he was not worthy to untie the thong of the Messiah’s sandal. At a time when people were dying to be in the limelight and were ready to trample on and even eliminate others to be on the top, he preferred to be a counter sign and said, “He must increase and I must decrease.” A truly humble person is able to say, “I am what I am by the grace of God.” Or, “The Almighty has done great things for me.” A truly humble person is able to accept gratefully his/her self as God’s gift and is able to submit himself/herself to God’s loving plans knowing fully well that they are better than one’s own.

John was a prophet of exceptional courage. A prophet is someone who speaks on behalf of God and interprets God’s will. Unlike the boy Samuel, John was familiar with God’s speech and ways. And he did not hesitate to announce God’s message to all. He was ready to denounce the Pharisees and Sadducees- powerful and influential groups in the then Jewish society- because they were hypocrites (Mt 23:15), blind leaders of the blind (Mt 15:14) and wicked in that their hearts were full of murder (Jn 8:37). He called them to repentance and warned them against God’s judgement.

Inspired and strengthened by God’s Holy Spirit he chastised the despotic King Herod and told him that it was not lawful for him to have his brother’s wife (Mk 6:18). John is a glowing example for Christian courage which is the willingness to say and do the right thing regardless of the earthly cost. Let the life and message of John the Baptist lead us to true repentance for our sins, help us love Jesus more and more and give us strength and courage to give witness to his mercy!

Most Rev. Raphy Manjaly
Bishop of Allahabad
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