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Masonic News & Views - John the Baptist
June 23, 2014
"From a lodge of the Holy Saints John at Jerusalem..."
This line of Masonic ritual is, no doubt, familiar to every American Freemason but beyond another brief mention in our Entered Apprentice Lecture there is no defined education on our patron saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. As we near the Feast Day of John the Baptist, June 24, I thought we should take a closer look at the man and his teachings.
Most Masonic scholars agree that there is no recorded or discernable history as to how or when these two saints were chosen as patrons of Blue Lodge Masonry. And, there seems to be little disagreement as to why they were chosen.
John the Baptist was a righteous man of passion and fire with no tolerance for moral weakness. He was devout in his beliefs, and zealous in teaching the message of repentance and humility to the peoples of Jerusalem. His message of repentance, though, was not merely to feel regret or even remorse, but to physically turn around and take up a new path in life, a path towards God.
He had a popular ministry, so popular that many wondered if he were in fact the prophesied Messiah of the ancient Hebrew teachings. His message and the movement he began spread to distant lands. He had many followers and became quite famous. Even the greatest teacher of all said of him, "Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist..." (Luke 7:28, KJV).
The life and character of John the Baptist are worthy of emulation by us all. He lived a life of unflinching integrity, righteousness, passion and compassion. He was sincere in his love for his fellow man, and humble even in fame. For all his honorable qualities, though, and for all his accomplishments as teacher and prophet I am moved most especially by the example in what he chose not to do.
The ministry of John the Baptist was at the height of its popularity. Multitudes of people came to be baptised in the waters of the Jordan by the Baptist. But he knew that his purpose was to, "...Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." And so, after baptizing Jesus himself and at a time when fame and fortune could have easily been his, he stepped aside and instructed his disciples to follow Jesus.
Is this not our purpose also, to prepare the way and make paths straight for those who are to come after us? Not for any particular event or any specific goal; not with any expectation of tribute or reward, but simply that those who choose to take the path may tread on solid ground.
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