What, Then, Will This Child Be?

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Nativity of John the Baptist.

John was born of a woman too old to bear children. The news of Elizabeth’s pregnancy was so unbelievable to Zechariah that he was struck dumb. We hear in today’s Gospel from Luke that only at John’s birth, when Zechariah writes that the baby will be named John was his mouth opened. All who were present were deeply affected, wondering “What, then, will this child be?”

The Gospel of the Evangelist John answers their question:

A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. (1:6-9)

When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites [to him] to ask him, “Who are you?” he admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Messiah.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert,“Make straight the way of the Lord,”’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” (1:19-23)

John has always been one of my heroes, a great model for us, and I often pray to be like him. No, not the dress in camel hair and eat locusts for my meals as Mattew’s Gospel suggested John did. I confess that does not much appeal to me. But to remember that my job always is to testify to the light. To remember that what I do is never about me, but about God. And to have John’s boldness in testifying to the truth. He is a good model for all of us who claim discipleship in Christ.

Blessings on this feast of the Nativity of John.