“…The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony (εἰς μαρτυρίαν), to bear witness (μαρτυρήσῃ) to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness (μαρτυρήσῃ) to the light.” (Jn 1: 6-8)
Today, as those of us on the Older Calendar celebrate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, I’m thinking about this business of “bearing witness” (“martyria” in Greek, i.e., martyrdom), specifically to “the light.” It was the whole point of St. John the Baptist’s life, or his vocation. The Forerunner literally “bore” witness, or “carried” it, as his great gift and cross that included great suffering. “Martyrdom” or “bearing witness” to the Light always includes suffering, because it is something one carries despite and through lots of darkness.
But the Light “shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Let me remember these light-filled words today, and carry them with me, as I respond to a vocation we all share, as Church, with the great Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord: to carry or “bear” witness to Him, the Light. I can have the Light in me today, if I open up to Him, and let Him shine through any darkness that may come my way. “Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord has shone upon you!”