The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
God loves infinite variety. God creates every human person as an unrepeatable being, each with a distinct purpose in life. Today, on the feast of John the Baptist, we praise God for creating this one‑of‑a‑kind powerhouse prophet and preacher. Maybe some of us share personality traits with John the Baptist. Or maybe we couldn’t be more unlike him. God will use whatever gifts we have, bold or discreet. God wants salvation to “reach to the ends of the earth,” as today’s reading from Isaiah says, so we can all find a way to serve the Lord. Nothing less than the salvation of the world is at stake; we have received the “word of salvation,” Saint Paul says in the Acts of the Apostles. Today’s feast is a perfect time to ask the Lord what gifts we have, and how we can use them to share the love of Jesus.
RIPE AND READY
Teachers and coaches know how to modify their tactics to reach various learners. God does the same with us, perfectly assessing the precise intervention we need in particular situations. God sent Jesus into the world at the ripest moment in human history. Although plenty of prophets, for centuries, had foretold the coming of the Messiah, the profound honor of meeting Christ himself fell to John the Baptist. The Gospel of Matthew tells us what this blessed prophet was like: “John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.” Out of an infinite variety of people throughout all of human history, God chose John the Baptist, in his wildness, to make us ready to meet the Son of God.
LEAST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
Few, if any, of us would be likely to choose John the Baptist as the one to prepare the world to meet its savior. Most of us would feel awkward around John, given his food and clothing choices, and his constant reminders to repent of our sins. John’s own father, Zechariah, doubted God’s providence when he learned his wife Elizabeth would give birth to John. As a punishment, the angel Gabriel removed Zechariah’s ability to speak. Luke’s Gospel reading today recounts the moment when Zechariah acknowledges God’s plan for his son. He supports Elizabeth—who had trusted in God’s providence all along—and regains his voice. Zechariah rejoices in God’s wisdom, praising God to all their neighbors.
John’s story reminds us how our instincts often run counter to God’s wisdom. Though we avoid awkward and difficult people, God chooses a locust-eating man to show us the way to Jesus. The lesson of John the Baptist is never to underestimate the power and wisdom of God. This inspires hope! We, like John, are “fearfully, wonderfully made” (Psalm 139). God has beautiful plans for each of us.
Today’s Readings: Is 49:1–6; Ps 139:1–3, 13–14, 14–15; Acts 13:22–26; Lk 1:57–66, 80