Know thyself

The great Socrates is credited with saying one of the most profound philosophical statements of all time: Know Thyself. As Christians, the more we know ourselves through prayer and times of self-reflection, the more we can discover our identity as children of God and disciples of Christ. We will also acquire a greater awareness of the danger of trying to be someone we are not, for in doing so, we can lose ourselves and pull others away from God.

We read in the Gospel this Sunday how St John the Baptist had excellent self-knowledge that prevented him from succumbing to the temptation of becoming someone he was not. Many speculated that He was the Messiah and it is not surprising that many had come from all over Judea to both receive his baptism of repentance and become his disciples.

But John knew his time was short and his mission was to prepare the way for the Messiah, not to become him. He was to decrease, and Jesus was to increase. His disciples were to abandon him to follow Jesus and ultimately, he was to give up his life as a martyr for the cause of standing up for what is true.

Had he not known himself and his mission in life, he could have deceived himself, and others, to think He was the Anointed One of God and begun to work against the plans of the Lord by drawing people to himself instead of bringing them to Jesus.

This Sunday, we might ask ourselves the question Socrates posed long ago.