From a homily delivered by His Grace Maxim, Bishop of Western America on the Feast Day of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.
“…[the two Gospels read today] connect the two realities of our life in Christ’s Church. One of them is calling or vocation and the other is repentance. As one church hymn says, the beginning and foundation of my being is Thy creative commandment, O Lord. God’s commandment, His calling, directed at all of us, is the foundation of our existence when Christ calls us; God with His wondrous, creative Word calls man into being, into existence, and with that He gives him a foundation – and for all us the foundation and basis and the guarantee for eternal life – is God’s commandment, God’s word. At the same time, the foundation of our being is repentance – a change in the way we exist and the wrong and sinful life which – without Christ – is senseless. When Christ, as this morning’s gospel says, called His first disciples, His very word “Follow Me”, was the same…and of the same strength and power as God’s creative word when He called the world into being, and that each of us be created. And that’s why the Apostles set out with Him so decisively, without much thinking. We can only image what that moment was like…..[in the beautiful frescoes and icons] and one of them is by a Western artist named Carraggio who portrays that relationship that Jesus established with the Apostles Andrew and Peter when He tells them, “Follow Me”. And from then on they follow Him, just as St. John the Prophet and Forerunner followed Him … He was His forerunner and, at the same time, he announced His coming….The Apostles had certainly heard the Forerunner’s preaching of the coming of Christ and also his preaching about repentance and the necessity of change in our lives, of the Jews at that time and all people of all generations. But that which connects repentance with vocation is our love …. and I remind myself and all of you that God calls us, causes repentance within us and, simultaneously, in that manner in a beautiful and wondrous manner, He touches the strings of our being and in them also causes love and that is which, today, has called us to this church to celebrate the Holy Prophet and Forerunner John….”