This Sunday focuses our attention on John the Baptist. We can usefully remember three things from his example:
1) that we need repentance- and this demands an acknowledgement that we are not perfect. it is a useful antidote to the pride which sometimes affects the religious
2) that our primary loyalty is to the Kingdom of heaven, which is never to be confused with any earthly nation-state-and that Jesus, the Christ enthroned in power, is the focus of our allegiance, as well as our belief and trust.
3) that we should always point to God revealed in Christ- and when church, diocese or parish, and the preservation of any or all of these replaces the preaching of the good news of Jesus Christ, that we have confused means and ends. We need to diminish, to point to Christ, as the Baptist did to Jesus.
Picture from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lorenzo_Lotto_-_The_Virgin_and_Child_with_Saints_Zacharias_and_John_the_Baptist_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg
This morning’s gospel reminds that the kingship of Christ offers a quality of life far in excess ( quality-wise, of anything that earthly politics and propaganda can manage. This theme is found also in John’s Gospel, where the failures of both the Jerusalem hierarchy and Roman justice are vividly depicted in scenes which drip with irony. In Paul, discussion of koinonia must never be restricted to ideas only of communion and community, which often get watered down into a group’s interests writ large to manipulate the behaviour of its members. As Ernst Kasemann reminded us years ago: koinonia is nothing less than complete allegiance and loyalty to Christ, putting ourselves under his complete authority, for only he exercises true leadership which blesses humanity far beyond the claims of any other political or secular ideology.
Picture from: https://musings-on-art.org/munkacsy-mihaly-munkacsy