This weekend we celebrate the Nativity of John the Baptist. John’s story has much to teach us in terms of living our lives as Catholic Christians. John’s birth was announced by the Angel Gabriel, much like Jesus’ was. While Mary put her life completely in the hands of God, Zachariah, John’s father, was unable to do so. His doubt caused him to be unable to speak—a problem for a priest at temple! His speech was restored when John was named as the angel had instructed, much to the dismay of the community. It was customary to name the first born son after a grandfather or father—or at least someone in the family! When Zachariah affirmed the name ‘John’ he was once again able to speak—his doubt about God’s intervention was lifted. John was a person of surprises. His mother, Elizabeth, was beyond childbearing years and was finally blessed with a child. He was not named after his father or grandfather. He did not follow his father as a priest—rather he lived an austere life in the desert wearing rough clothing and eating what was available. However, what he did is what we are all called to do. John pointed to Jesus! His whole life was spent to help people find their way deep into the heart and mission of God. Repent! Live your faith! John the Baptist, the last of the prophets, heralds in God’s great plan of redemption. Prophets are people who call us back to who we are meant to be when we forget.
Christian artwork often shows John pointing—showing us the way of faith. As we walk through the coming week and months, we might ask ourselves how we continue John’s mission today. How do we point others to God?
How do we point others to God through our lives without using words? How and when do we need desert times to refocus our lives? Where do we find them?
If you have an opportunity or are looking for a short road trip this summer, go out to the Abbey Church at Saint John’s. In the entryway near the baptistery you will find a rather austere statue of Saint John the Baptist. Notice how his hand is pointing into the church—toward the altar where we meet Jesus as a community at each Mass.
October 17, 2020
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC