Birthday of John the Baptist

What do you think is the most amazing thing about John the Baptist?  Could it be his uncompromising zeal to do God’s will? What about his clear, passionate preaching?  Maybe his gift of self-denial, or the humility he displayed despite his fame.

Consider how even as a fetus, John leapt for joy in the presence of his God.  Here was an unborn child, barely aware of life outside of the womb, and yet the muffled sound of Mary’s greeting filled him with the Holy Spirit and caused such a dramatic reaction.

When you look into it, there’s quite a bit of leaping about in the Scriptures: Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, also felt an unusual amount of activity from the twins in her womb.  Rebekah asked God why this was happening, and he told her that something spiritual and prophetic was going on inside of her (Genesis 25:20-23).  King David leapt before the Ark of the Covenant.  He loved God so much he couldn’t contain himself (2 Samuel 6:14-15).  The prophet Isaiah wrote that in the age to come, when the glory of the Lord is revealed, the lame will leap for joy (Isaiah 35:4-6).

John’s leaping shows us that there’s a part of us that can recognise God, regardless of what we do or who we are.  It’s encoded into the way he made us.  This ability to recognise God isn’t limited to unborn children or to great saints.  It’s in all of us, and it’s something that the Holy Spirit wants to bring to life so that we too can recognise Jesus more deeply and rejoice in his presence.  John the Baptist is one of the greatest saints of the Church.  In fact he’s the only saint in the General Calendar to have two feast days.  He was regarded in such high esteem by the Early Church.  And yet we should never forget that the relationship between John and Jesus is something each one of us can experience.  We can all leap for joy as we prepare the world for the second coming of Christ.

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