Isaiah 49: 1-6
Acts 13: 22-26
Luke 1: 57-66, 80
“In those days, Paul said:
‘John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’
‘My brothers, children of the family of Abraham, and those others among you who are God-fearing, to us this word of salvation has been sent.'” (Acts 13)
On this day, Catholics, and Eastern Rite Christians celebrate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. We remember the birth of St. John, we remember what his role in salvation history was. There are theologians who describe him as the bridge between the Old Testament times and the New Testament times. He is considered the last prophet of the Prophetic Age of Israel.
We do not much of his history; we can suspect that he spent time in the desert, fasting and in prayer. Some scholars theorize that John may have had contact with the Essenes a Jewish ascetic community. At some point, the Holy Spirit called him from the desert to the Jordan River, where he began to proclaim the coming of the Messiah, and the Kingdom of God. He called the people to a life of repentance, symbolized by them receiving baptism in the waters of the river. It was on the Jordan River, that he encountered the promised Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. And though he felt unworthy, he baptized Jesus, so that all things would be fulfilled. After this meeting, John continued preaching and baptizing. He would call out Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee, about his lifestyle, and especially his marriage to his brother’s former wife, which violated Jewish law. St. John would pay with his life for being so outspoken.
When we were baptized, we became members of the Body of Christ; as such, we share in his life as priest, prophet, and king. Focusing on our prophetic role; we are called to proclaim the Good News, either by our words or actions. As prophets, we are to speak up for the poor, the persecuted, and the refugee; and speak truth to power. As St. John the Baptist was moved by the Holy Spirit, so we also be open to the promptings of the Spirit, and be true prophets to our world.