John, son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, was minding his own business when he came to understand that God wanted him to do something quite different with his life. So he went to the desert where he gradually learned that he was to preach a baptism of repentance. John is described as “the voice of one crying in the desert.” John’s prophetic preaching  eventually brought him to the Jordan river, where he meets Jesus, his cousin. “Behold the Lamb of God,” John shouts, as Jesus asks him for baptism. Eventually John is imprisoned and then beheaded at Herod’s command, as Mark’s gospel account describes.

Today’s reading from Thessalonians helps us understand John’s life of brotherly love. God used John to introduce the life and purpose, the ministry and mission of Jesus as our Savior, the redeemer of the world. John’s life of faith invites us “to love one another” and  “to make even greater progress.” What small steps can I take today to live out my own baptism in love and in service?

—The Jesuit Prayer Team