Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Continuing on from yesterday’s examination of our Christian identity as a sinner called to follow Christ we might take today’s Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist as an opportunity to do a case study of a model Christian. Other than Our Lord’s birthday, John’s is the only one the Church really celebrates (the Birthday of Mary on September 8th does not receive as much prominence as her Immaculate Conception nine months earlier in December), and what we read today is how, really, John was engineered by God to be a perfect herald for the Christ he would come to follow from his earliest moments. If we recall Mary’s visit after she herself conceived Christ, John leaped in his mother’s womb; indeed the Lord called him “from birth,” just as He calls us from birth in our baptism.
Isaiah describes in his prophecy the “Servant of the Lord” and clearly the Church gives us this reading as an image and foreshadowing of John the Baptist, who is quite literally the Servant of the Lord but perhaps in a way Isaiah could never have imagined: a servant of the Lord-become-Man. Yet his imagination is large enough to include what would one day come to pass, for has not the cry of John in the desert truly reached the ends of the Earth? That is, after all, the very reality of the Catholic Church! Like John we are, from the moment of our birth into God’s family through baptism, called to proclaim Christ; it is a task that should burn in our very blood, so essential is it to our very being. It is up to us, we Christians who have heard that cry, to echo it so that it reverberates throughout the world until Christ returns. John was merely the first to proclaim Him and you are the latest; do not let yourself be the last.