Father Michael Barrow

From the parish of St Francis of Assisi

John The Baptist - The Voice: A Reflection By Fr Michael Barrow S.J.

John The Baptist - The Voice:  A Reflection By Fr Michael Barrow S.J.

To prepare for Sunday Mass of Advent it is a good idea to read and give thought to the readings in your missal or Bible. Here are some questions to ponder.

First Reading [Isaiah 11: 1-10] The gifts of the Holy Spirit, mentioned here: wisdom, understanding, right judgment, courage, knowledge, reverence and wonder and awe in the presence of God. Choose one and pray for it. 

Second Reading [Romans 15: 4-9] "Hope: people who did not give up were helped by God." Is there anything in which I am likely to give up rather than trusting God? 

Gospel [Matt 3: 1-12] Christ is the Word, John the Baptist is the Voice that delivers the Word. In what ways am I a voice bringing the Word made flesh to other people?


To say that someone just likes the sound of his own voice means he is not so much interested in his audience or even in the content of his message; he just likes talking.That certainly could not apply to St John the Baptist. When he said he was a Voice being used to prepare the way of the Lord, he was using a metaphor – he wasn't talking about using his speaking voice, for he said he was the Voice. It later became clear that Jesus Christ was the Word conveyed by the Voice.

Suppose I have an idea in my head that I want to convey to you. I think of words to express it and then I use my voice to say it to you. Once you have heard the words and accepted them in your head, I can stop talking – I don't need my voice to continue. That is what happened with the coming of John the Baptist. He was the Voice. Christ is the Word, and a word needs a voice to convey it. So once John had brought the Word to the people and they were able to accept it he, the Voice, was no longer needed.That just about sums up John the Baptist's life: he came to prepare people to receive Christ, then he had to discern and be sure who was Christ, and after that he had to withdraw and not get in the way, so that the people would follow Christ and not him.His life could be summed up in a sort of motto: 'Prepare – Discern – Then Get Out Of The Way.'

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