*More than a Prophet yet least in Heaven_(_*“I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7:28)*_
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus praises John the Baptist for his shining qualities as an excellent prophet. John the Baptist did not only speak the truth, he bore witness to the truth by sacrificing his life in defence of morality. Right from the womb, John the Baptist started announcing Christ when he sensed Christ’s presence in Mary’s womb.
John the Baptist did not just preach repentance, his lifestyle proclaimed the truth that we all are pilgrims on earth. He deprived himself of the luxuries of this life to capture the attention of the people to his message. Yet, as great as John the Baptist was, we hear Jesus saying today: “He who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist.”
What does this mean? That heaven is so different from this world and the standards of judgement or ranking are not like what we see here on earth. Let’s face the fact, heaven is not an easy place to get to. No wonder Jesus asserted in Luke 13:24 “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” In aiming for heaven, aim very high lest you fall below your aspirations. And perfection is the key to attaining heaven.
The life of John the Baptist teaches us the following: 1. Commitment to duty; when you recognize your purpose in life, be the best; avoid mediocrity. 2. Dedication; John the Baptist didn’t care about what he would get from preparing the way for Christ; he practically lived and died a poor man; feeding on locusts and dressed in camel’s hair.
3. Humility; you might be the best in what you do but do not let pride and fame get into your head. At the height of his fame, John the Baptist did not consider himself good enough to carry Jesus’ shoes. 4. Fearlessness; John the Baptist spoke the truth regardless of what anyone would think. This is what eventually landed him in prison.
In prison, John the Baptist must have prayed hard for God to rescue him but this did not happen. John the Baptist’s reward was not to come in this present life. This is the sad and bitter truth. You may have worked hard for God, sacrificed so much for the church, and toiled hard for your fellow Christians yet all these good deeds do not exempt you from life’s challenges. Our only reward is in heaven.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, help me to give my very best. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu