Fr. Tony Stubeda
From the Desk
of Fr. Tony...
Father Tony Stubeda
One of the great dangers of thanking people at the end of parish events or celebrations is the possibility of forgetting to mention a person or group of persons that should have been thanked. My father pointed this out when I was a child. At the end of big celebrations like Easter and Christmas he would often remark that Father thanked everybody but the ushers, and that the ushers had been hauling, setting up and taking down chairs for people all during Mass. I donít think that he was angry, but he, as an usher, felt neglected and ignored. I think that all of us want to be appreciated, recognized and thanked for the things that we do. Often we are generous with our time, talent and treasure, but we would like someone to notice and take into account our contribution and recognize what we have been doing so generously.
In todayís Gospel we witness a very generous act on the part of John the Baptist. Johnís ministry has been going on for some time, and he has gathered a number of disciples and followers around him. He has awakened a longing in their hearts and they trust and follow him. Today he begins to tell his followers to look away from him and to turn to Jesus. He clearly states that the whole reason for his ministry and preaching was to bring people to Jesus and to his saving message. John has played his role, and now he freely submits himself and his ministry to the greater mission and ministry of Jesus, the Son of God. The Gospels, as products of their time and place, do not spend much time plumbing the depths of the thoughts and psychology of those we meet there. We do not know whether John had to struggle with this turn of events, but from the text we have, it seems that he willingly and generously sends his followers away content that he has completed his mission of preparing the way for the Lord. John recognizes that he was a guide, and as such, his job is done.
In this generosity, I again look to my fatherís example. With seven children who have at times accomplished good things, I have often overheard people giving him compliments on his sonsí and daughtersí achievements. He always responded that it was his son or daughter, not he, who deserves the attention and credit. In our life as disciples of the Lord and proclaimers of the Gospel may we be filled with the same generous spirit and grace of John the Baptist by pointing others to the Lord. May God help us to understand and rejoice in our own small part in the great mission of salvation revealed in Jesus Christ.