Today we celebrate the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. After the angel Gabriel announced that Mary would conceive and bear the Son of God, she set out to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who already was six months pregnant. Upon hearing Mary’s greeting, the Bible says that the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy (Luke 1:36-44). But, perhaps he also was bowing down in deference.
The child born to Elizabeth grew up to become the great first-century prophet, John the Baptist, who baptized people in the desert for the repentance of their sins. Though renowned in his own right with disciples following him, John nevertheless recognized his subordinate position in relation to Jesus.
Rather than calling attention to himself, John was sent ahead of Christ to prepare the way of the Lord. The one “coming after me is mightier than I,” he is recorded as saying in all four of the gospels, “and I am not fit to remove his sandals” (Matthew 3:11). Even the feast day of John’s birth falls near the summer solstice when the days begin to grow shorter in anticipation of Christ’s birth at Christmas, a seasonal reflection of John’s self-effacing remark about Jesus: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
John was a faithful steward of Christ. He made ready the way of the Lord. Through his humility, he recognized the true gift that had come into the world in the person of Jesus Christ. One of the great virtues of a Christian steward is humility, through which we come to realize that all we are and have is given to use by a loving and generous God, who calls us to increase in our generosity towards others.
--Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
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