“This declaration, this testimony, reveals John’s spirit of service,” the pope said. “Humanly speaking, one would think that he would be given a ‘prize,’ a prominent place in Jesus’ public life. But no. John, having accomplished his mission, knows how to step aside, he withdraws from the scene to make way for Jesus.”
In this way, St. John the Baptist teaches “freedom from attachments” and “gratuitousness, taking care of others without benefit for oneself,” he said.
“Because it is easy to become attached to roles and positions, to the need to be esteemed, recognized and rewarded,” the pope reflected.
“It is good for us, too, to cultivate, like John, the virtue of setting ourselves aside at the right moment, bearing witness that the point of reference of life is Jesus.”
The crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square to hear Pope Francis deliver his Angelus address on Jan. 15, 2023. Vatican Media
Pope Francis recommended self-reflection on the following questions: “Do we attract others to Jesus, or to ourselves? And furthermore, following the example of John: Do we know how to rejoice in the fact that people take their own path and follow their calling, even if this entails some detachment from us? Do we rejoice in their achievements with sincerity and without envy?”
At the end of his general audience, Pope Francis announced that an ecumenical prayer vigil will take place in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 30, 2023, as part of the Church’s ongoing Synod on Synodality.
The ecumenical prayer vigil, organized by the Taizé Community, will “entrust to God the work of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops,” set to take place in two sessions from Oct. 4 to 29, 2023, and in October 2024.
“Starting now, I invite our brothers and sisters of all Christian denominations to participate in this gathering of the People of God,” the pope said.
Pope Francis also highlighted the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which will begin this week on Jan. 18, noting that the “path to Christian unity and the Church’s journey to synodal conversion are linked.”