‘I do not know how to speak’

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I am an ordinand in the Church of England, and so I say the Church of England’s offices each day. On occasions, however, this can feel a little like drudgery, so I like to spice my life up with the Roman Catholic Office of Readings.

Icon of the nativity of S. John the BaptistToday’s Office of Readings contained a gem of a first reading from the prophecy of Jeremiah, appointed for the nativity of S. John the Baptist:

The word of the Lord was addressed to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you; I have appointed you as prophet to the nations.’

I said, ‘Ah, Lord; look, I do not know how to speak: I am a child!’

But the Lord replied, ‘Do not say, “I am a child.” Go now to those to whom I send you and, say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to protect you – it is the Lord who speaks!’

As I prepare for my ordination on Sunday, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ministry of proclaiming the Gospel that comes with the diaconate. It’s frequently terrifying.

But readings like this one today are a comfort. My success cannot be down to my own efforts, but only through the God who calls me.

S. John the Baptist and all prophets, pray for us.