Solemnity of St. John the Baptist
Isaiah 49: 1 – 6; Ps 139; Acts 13: 22 – 26; Luke 1: 57 – 66, 80
St John – clearly called to a most special vocation – uniquely graced – and living this as a human like us – an earthen vessel.
It seems to me there are statements in Gospel that underline his unique life;
A great number knew of his calling; “Then fear came upon all their neighbors and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these took them to heart, saying, ‘What, then, will this child be?’”
“For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.”
What did it mean for John when he was made aware of his calling – a calling that many knew – a calling of maturing under the hand of God? St. Luke writes: “The child grew and became strong in spirit and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.”
But St. Luke tells us nothing of what went on in John’s heart. We are not privy to St John’s interior journey of dealing with a desert life, of an asceticism that had to challenge his humanity, notwithstanding the gift of grace.
Only once in the Gospel do we get a hint of struggle when John, in prison, sent messengers to Jesus: “Are you the one who is to come or shall we look for another?” It seems that John, faced with imprisonment and possible death, was tempted with second thoughts – has my life been on the wrong track? The great precursor did not cease to be human, an earthen vessel – grace does not take away humanness.
Each one of us can truly say of ourselves: “The hand of the Lord is with me” – God is present to each of us in our uniqueness – as He was to John – What does that mean for me, for you – how have I, how do I live under this most compassionate ,merciful hand – this hand that invites me, you to a relationship unlike any other in the world – radical, unconditional, consuming, encompassed by a love that has no measure that is totally faithful, steadfast, that has no end?
Whatever our answer, hopefully and gratefully we can pray with the Psalmist: “I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works.’ (Ps 139)