Jun 20, 2018

The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Cycles of Faith
The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Tiny fingers and toes. A little yawn. A loud cry. An infant wrapped in swaddling clothes. "What will this child be?" It is a question every parent asks time and time again. 

As first steps are taken, as personalities emerge, as a child shows interest in reading or drawing or climbing, the question is on our lips. "What will this child be?" This question is asked as John the Baptist is born. Will he be a priest like his father? Does his strange, unexpected name signal a departure from that inheritance? Could Elizabeth and Zechariah ever have predicted what would be?

Under the tutelage of his priestly father, John "became strong in spirit." As an adult, John would retreat into the desert to preach repentance. He would attract a large following and eventually attract the attention of the rulers of the day. He would point out the adulterous ways of King Herod and would find himself in prison. Eventually, he would be beheaded. But today, he is a child, an infant newly born.

On this special feast, we're reminded of the great humility required of parents. The character formation, the discipline and encouragement, the violin lessons and soccer practices ? every parental effort is subjected to the decisions of the child themself. Even children on a sure track by high school graduation transform under life's circumstances. Entrusting our children to God can be incredibly intimidating. "What will this child be," especially when that transformation lies outside of my control? John the Baptist's story might not have ended as his parents imagined. But he is celebrated as the greatest of the prophets, as the one who prepared the way for the Messiah. Here is the hope of all Christian parents -- that our children would be raised in such a way that when people meet them, they meet Jesus Christ.

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