Song du Jour

Song du Jour

Benedictine Thoughts, Teachings, and Prayers

JOHN THE BAPTIST

December 10, 2012

 

 

John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness, “Prepare the Way of the Lord, 

Make straight his paths: all flesh shall see the salvation of our God.”     

 

I have always been fascinated with John the Baptist because he seems to come out from under a rock; he was an eccentric man using his voice to convince people, that now is the time to prepare, repent, and believe the Good News. How many times have we gone to the mall, the store, or the town square and there were people with a message trying to convince us that they have a product that we want but we just look at them as though they are nuts and keep walking. Well, to me, this seems to be the same scenario but in biblical times. Picture this: people on their journey through the vast open desert, trying to avoid sandstorms, the heat, the night cold, etc…and all of a sudden you hear this booming voice roaring out to people to listen up, pay attention.  “I have news for all of you…he is coming; the one we have been waiting for…”

 

A first impression is a lasting one: first of all he looks like a wild man having a bad hair day, with an unusual flair for fashion: wearing wild looking clothing made of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, waving a wooden stick in his hand, ranting and raving with fire in his eyes…there was nothing gentle about this man, his mission, or his message. He meant business, and he needed to proclaim this news with authority and gusto. As people gathered by the River Jordan, some sat to listen to what John was selling. There is no doubt about it - John had a tough mission to carry out. People could see that he really didn’t have a home per se; he just lived in the desert wilderness, ate locusts and wild honey while preaching a strange message. The one word that stands out here that best describes John the Baptist is “wild,” everything about him appeared to be “wild.” Aside from his unconventional appearance, John clearly knew what his mission in life was to be and he also realized that God had chosen him for this purpose.

 

 Facts about John the Baptist:

 

~ his parents were Elizabeth (Mary’s cousin) and Zechariah Elizabeth’s husband

 

~ Elizabeth was expecting when Mary came to visit

 

~ Elizabeth’s pregnancy was six months ahead of Jesus’ birth

 

~ John was born in the hill country of Judea

 

~ John preceded Jesus spreading the news about his cousin and had already started baptizing

 

~ Jesus, in all things human, wants to be baptized by John as other people did before him

 

~ He didn’t just talk about repentance but he “walked the talk”

 

According to Mary Fairchild, “John was focused and faithful to his commitment to the call of God on his life. He took a Nazirite vow for life; he personified the term ‘set apart for God.’” John knew that he had a specific job to do and he did so - complying with obedience to God and to see his mission through to the end.

 

There are many lessons for us to learn here with John the Baptist as an exemplary model. We are all on our own journey and with this in mind, we can say that God has given us a specific purpose for our lives. Our lives hold much responsibility if we really listen to what God wants us to do for him. Our lives, as John’s, don’t have to be somber and sad. Besides repentance, there was great joy for John in knowing the nearness of Jesus’ presence. He was there to prepare the path and to be filled with the Holy Spirit’s joy.

 

 There were issues that John had to face especially when challenging Herod for his sins and told him to repent. In approximately 29 AD, Herod Antipas had John the Baptist arrested and put in prison because  Herod saw John as a major threat.

 

 Later John was beheaded through a plot devised by Herodias, the illegal wife of Herod and ex-wife of his brother, Philip.

 

 In the book, A Monastic Journey to Christmas by Brother Victor-Antoine D’Avila-Latourrette, it states that ‘during the course of the year, the liturgy provides us several occasions to return to the person, message, and the very special role/ministry of John the Baptist. His birth date in June and his decapitation in August are reminders beyond Advent of the unique role that John played in the plan of salvation.’

 

 In a daily devotional, Give Us This Day, Sr. Verna Holyhead states that ‘John will call the people to make another crossing; from exile of unfaithfulness to God into the forgiveness of their sins. He proclaims a baptism of repentance, a conversion of heart (metanoia) that looks to future commitment and not merely regret for the past.’ We are asked to level out the hills and valleys of our hearts; meaning to get rid of any obstacles that would hinder Jesus’ coming; so that we can encounter a pure union more fully with Christ on Christmas.

 

 Song du jour: Hymn for the Synaxsis of John the Baptist

 

 Glorious John the Baptist, You heard the Father’s voice from heaven

testifying to his Son, And you saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove

Descending with the Father’s words onto the baptized One.

O higher than all the prophets, Do not cease to intercede for us

Who honor your memory with faith and love.

 

 

“That in all things God may be glorified!”

Sr. Jo-El McLaughlin, OSB

Art taken from: shttp://www.bing.com/images/search?q=pictures+of+John+the+Baptist&view=detail&id=F33A1F55006C85F1CF197C77ABF9F92966A3C09F&first=209

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