John the Baptist knew his role was 'to prepare people for an encounter with the Lord," says Francis

In sharing the Gospel with others, Christians must be like St John the Baptist, Pope Francis has said.

Celebrating the feast of the birth of St John the Baptist earlier today, Pope Francis called him “the greatest among the prophets,” because he knew how to prepare people, discern the Lord’s identity and “diminish” so Jesus could increase.

John the Baptist was an important man, “people sought him out and followed him,” the Pope said during an early morning Mass in the chapel of his residence.


According to Vatican Radio, the Pope wondered aloud whether St John was ever tempted “to think that he was important, but this never happened.” Instead, he always replied that one mightier than he was coming.

John the Baptist knew his role was “to prepare the people, prepare people’s hearts for an encounter with the Lord,” Pope Francis said.

The prophet also needed the gift of discernment to be able to recognise Jesus as the messiah, the Pope said. “The Spirit revealed this to him and he had the courage to say, ‘It’s him. This is the lamb of God who will take away the sins of the world.”

The Pope went on to say that St John knew that his gift for speaking, preaching, moving people’s hearts and attracting a crowd had a purpose that had nothing to do with him and everything to do with Jesus.

As a model for evangelising, St John the Baptist demonstrates that “a Christian does not proclaim him- or herself, but another, and prepares the way for another: the Lord. A Christian must know how to discern and must discern the truth from that which seems to be true, but isn’t,” the Pope said. Finally, “a Christian knows how to diminish so that the Lord increases in the hearts and souls of others.”

Blog: ‘Why are British Catholics so bad at celebrating the birth of St John the Baptist?’


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