Birth of John the Baptist 24.6.12
John the Baptist is exalted as one of the greatest saints in our Church history because of his closeness to Christ.
Most saints follow Christ; John preceded Him. It was harder in that sense for John to do what he did because he did not have the benefit of the sacraments or of the knowledge of Jesus’ life.
It is hard enough for us to imitate Jesus once we know what He did, but how to do what He did in advance!? That is John’s glory.
In his birth, in life, and in death John shows forth a very different way of doing things from the normal worldly view. In all three areas he reflects or highlights the greater glory of Jesus, who did the same things a little later.
The birth of John, today’s special focus, was an event surrounded by strange wonders. The appearance of the angel, the message of the angel, the naming of the child, the fact that he was born to parents who would not be likely to have a child. All of these things applied also to Jesus.
John led the way; he was the precursor.
In his life he lived apart from men, in a strange way, intensely holy. He was different from others so that they could become like him. We do not all have to live in the desert and eat locusts but we do all have to give our whole attention to the will of God.
In his death, he was put to death unjustly. An innocent man being murdered by guilty men, in the name of the law; for political expediency.
And he did all this without actually knowing what was to follow.
In this he can be a help to us. We have the knowledge of Jesus Christ and all that He did. We also have the help that comes to us through the sacraments and the Mass. Yet still there are things in the future that we do not understand; and we never know what is going to happen next in our own lives.
Thus we also have to know how to live a certain way without knowing fully how it will turn out.
This takes faith, as well as hope. It takes trust in the goodness of God.
From John we learn what happens when someone gives himself fully to the will of God, in humility and trust, and letting God do the rest.
Four lessons in particular:
One, that as Zachary and Elizabeth had to wait for their son, God will sometimes make us wait before He answers our prayers.
When we really want something we pray harder for it; so by withholding things from us for a time God is forcing us to pray harder, which is good for us.
Two, that when He does answer a prayer He will answer it beyond our expectations.
Zachary and Elizabeth did not know what God was planning, but they prayed for a child and got more than they expected; more than they would have dared to hope. And so it will be for us, if we persevere.
Three, that only to the humble will He grant such favours. Zachary and Elizabeth were humble, not powerful on the world stage. God uses the little and the obscure. Not those with military power or brilliant intellect etc, but just humble people doing the right thing, trusting in God, cooperating with His will.
As with the Loaves and fishes: bring what you have and let Him multiply it.
Four, that once we have made ourselves available for His purposes He will do the heavy work. All we have to do is stand there and let His power work through us. If we do not impede Him through sin or obstinacy He will work wonders through us too.
May the voice in the wilderness finally be heard, and Christ be welcomed as never before.