24th June

A John The Baptist For A New Generation

Jesus began to speak about John the Baptist to the crowds…. You saw much more than a prophet… John is greater than any one who has ever lived. But the person who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than John. Luke 7: 26, 28

Every generation needs people like John the Baptist who make a radical break with comfort and convention, and prepare the way for a new move of God. In some ways Columba was a John the Baptist figure for his time, as these verses suggest.

He broke passions, brought to ruin secure prisons
Colum Cille overcame them with bright action.
Connacht’s candle, Britain’s candle, splendid ruler
In scores of curraghs with an army of wretches
he crossed the long haired sea.
He crossed the wave-strewn wild region, foam-flecked, seal-filled
savage, bounding, seething, white-tipped, pleasing, doleful.
Wisdom’s champion all round Ireland, he was exalted;
excellent name: Britanny’s nursed, Britain’s sated.
He left chariots, he loved ships, foe to falsehood;
sun-like exile, sailing, he left fame’s steel bindings.
Triumphant plea; adoring God, nightly, daily,
with hands outstretched, with splendid alms, with right actions.
Fine his body, Colum Cille, heaven’s cleric –
a widowed crowd – well-spoken just-one, tongue triumphant.
The last Verses of Beccan

Give us, O God
something of the spirit of your servant John the Baptist
His moral courage
His contentment with simplicity
His refusal to be fettered by this world
His faithfulness in witness to the end
From Brendan O’Malley: A Pilgrim’s Manual: St. David’s