Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

“I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Is. 49:6). As we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist, we are reminded that the creator of the universe and author of redemption has carefully orchestrated the plan for our salvation. This child will be the voice announcing the presence of the living Word. With the waters of repentance, John would prepare people for the divine physician’s work skillfully penetrating the opening between soul and spirit to reveal the thoughts and attitudes of the human heart. The voice crying out in the wilderness would awaken the consciences of his hearers and bring them out of their darkness to the true Light of the World. Today, an infant’s cry sounds throughout the world’s wilderness and the people find reason to hope.

We adults have a lot to learn from this infant who, while still in his mother’s womb acknowledged the nearness of the Incarnate Word. The prophet Isaiah’s imagery is breathtaking. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them” (Is. 11:6). If only we could reclaim the wonder, awe, and delight we experienced as children. If like John, we jump for joy at the nearness of our God, we can also be voices of hope for people walking in darkness. The apostle to the Gentiles grounds our trust in Christ. “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).

God who is Love made us out of love and for love. He loved us from the first moment of our existence and called us by name. As we breathe in God’s life-creating Spirit we will become more like Him who made us. As we grow in His likeness, we will be able to recognize that likeness in others. Like the precursor, we will give voice to the Word that desires to be echoed to the ends of the earth. The Psalmist tells us what we are to announce. “You are the One who created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am awesomely and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works” (Ps. 130:13-14). With the birth of John, the Baptist, God gave voice to his Word. With the Incarnation of the Eternal Word God gave the human race communion with the Trinity.

A sense of wonder, awe, and gratitude surrounds the birth of John the Baptist. Where things seem impossible, God proposes the possible. What God did for John, He continues to do for us. The True Light of the world knew us before we were conceived. The giver of life formed us in our mother’s womb. The Heart of the Universe knitted us together in his image and likeness. The Father of us all welcomed us into the world on the day we were born. The Father of our risen and ascended Lord made us one with his Beloved Son so that we might be one with him in our heavenly homeland. “Let us embrace that humility of soul which elevates us to great heights, that charity which unites us with God; and have a genuine faith in revealed mysteries” (St. Pope John XXIII).