Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Couragous Herald

Today the Church marks the Birth of St. John the Baptist. On the Liturgical Calendar the feast is a Solemnity – a solemn feast. For some of us, St. John is a mysterious figure, somewhat off-beat and strange. That’s because we don’t understand him and his role in Salvation History. John is a bridge between the Old and New Testament, the last of the Old Testament prophets and the herald of the New.

In ancient times when a King planned to visit his people he sent a herald ahead to prepare the way. There were no superhighways, only muddy roads full of ruts and holes and obstacles such as boulders and logs along the path. It was the herald’s job to “make the rough ways smooth” and to prepare a passable and suitable way for the King. (Luke 1:57-66, 80, Acts 13:22-26)

That was St. John the Baptist’s role. Scripture describes him as a " voice crying in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way of the Lord.'" (see Luke 3:4, Mt 3:3, Mark 1:3)

He came to live a life of holiness, shunning all material comforts, out in the dessert where, by calling the Israelites to repentance, he was challenging them to prepare the way – their hearts - for the coming of Jesus, the King of Kings. The followers of John were “pre-evangelized”, growing in their love of God so that when Jesus began to walk along the shores of Galilee proclaiming the message of His Kingdom, they were ready to hear and follow Him.

Jesus comes to us every day and today St. John the Baptist challenges us to receive him with open hearts, getting rid of the ruts and boulders of our sin that impede His coming. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

(For a video reflection on St. John the Baptist click on

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