June 24, 2021
by Luis Rodriguez, S.J.
Creighton University's Jesuit Community
click here for photo and information about the writer

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist Mass during the Day
Lectionary: 587

Isaiah 49:1-6
Psalm 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15
Acts 13:22-26
Luke 1:57-66, 80
Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Praying the Psalms

In one of his books Fr. James Martin, S.J. quotes on old-timer from the deep South, who in his deep-South way of speaking says: You gotta be who you is, not who you aint. Cause if you aint who you is, then you is who you aint. And that aint good. Why would I repeat this quote on the feast of John the Baptist? Simply because John knew who he was and who he was not. When questioned by those sent by the religious authorities, he told them clearly: what you think I am I am not. A wholesome awareness of who we are needs to be balanced by an equally wholesome awareness of who we are not.

All too often, instead of owning who we are, we succumb to the temptation of pretending to be who we are not. We wear appearances, in order to impress people and mislead them into thinking that we are what we are not, perhaps because we do not think that they can be impressed by what we really are. It may be all right for a child to wear a Superman shirt and flex his thin muscles, since people realize that it is only a child’s game and they do not try to correct him. It is not all right for us adults to engage in an equivalent pretension. We gotta be who we is, not who we aint.

John had a golden opportunity to pretend to be who he knew he was not. The possibility of such pretension was offered to him on a platter, but he did not take the bait. He knew well who he was - only a voice - and he knew equally well who he was not. We need to pray for a wholesome self-awareness, knowing who we are and who we are not and owning both.

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