On this Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist I’m thinking about all the knives in my kitchen, I’ll even add the pair of scissors that sits in the middle of my block of neatly situated knives. I’ve used those instruments of slicing and cutting quite a bit as I hone in on my culinary skills. The problem is they have all become “dull” instruments, making it increasingly difficult for them to do what they are supposed to do: cut and slice. No, this reflection is not going to continue in a weird manner, given the slicing and cutting images, but only to illustrate a point: they can’t do properly what they are supposed to do because they have become “dull.”
The reading from the liturgy speaks of making me a “sharpened knife; a polished arrow.” St. Paul, in one of his letters, speaks of the word of God being like a “sharpened two/edged sword.” In both cases, the key words are “sharpened and polished,” the opposite of “dull.”
John the Baptist was one who never let his spirit become dull or ineffective. His entire life and ministry were “instruments”, that never lost their meaning or vitality, they were never dulled. Has my life become dulled by routine, by simply going through the motions of living, so that I have lost the edge of the Spirit? Each one of us is a human instrument with a purpose given to us by God. If we are unaware of that purpose, or we have taken it for granted, we become dull, useless.
John the Baptist is certainly one we can turn to as a witness of someone who can help us regain the sharpness of our own unique witness. The Spirit, like flint, sharpens our own spirit so that we become human extensions of God’s creative energy, creating “slices of life” that restore creation to its original beauty.
John the Baptist was not a dull, boring person; may we follow his example.