Today is the feast of the birth of John the Baptist. In the first reading John said, “The Lord formed me as his servant from the womb.”
With his aged parents dying while he was still a boy, John took to the desert where he put himself into training. And what training it must have been! He had to train himself to think not of himself but of the Savior he was born to announce.
The training each of us received in childhood was a mild, a very mild, version of that. It was drilled into us that we could not always be thinking of our self. When we go overboard the other direction, we feel somewhat ashamed of being selfish.
As an adult John was shocked when people put him above Jesus. He pleaded with such people not to do that. He insisted, “He must increase, while I must decrease.
Just as everyone on St. Patrick’s Day has to wear something green, so on this feast of John the Baptist each of us should make a special effort at checking and curbing our being absorbed in our self.
Once when I was talking to the kids at Mass at St. Paul’s, I asked them what John the Baptist had to eat in the desert. When one little girl answered correctly, saying, “He ate locusts and wild honey,” I came back with, “You are a wild honey.”
Ten years further on, I was getting my car washed at Charles and George’s, and the woman scrubbing my tires asked, “Don’t you know me?”
I answered, “No, who are you?”
Smiling up at me, she said, “I’m wild honey.”