A Reflection on the Solemnity of St. John the Baptist
by Fr. Serg Kabamalan, CJM
One of the games I really like watching is the relay be it in the swimming pool or in the track and field oval. It is just fascinating and exciting how it turns out in the end, especially so that the last lap is usually where the strongest and fastest team member is fielded. But even then, every effort contributed by each swimmer or runner is always important.
The same is true with our collective lives. From the dawn of human history, men and women from one generation to the next have been trying to move forward, doing their beat, and passing on the baton to the next generation. We can look at John the Baptist role in God’s plan of salvation that way but passing the baton not just to any other human being but to our savior himself.
It was clear from the very beginning that he was destined for something great. The circumstances of his birth were extraordinary if not all together impossible, with his parents at their ripe old age. It can only be understood as miraculous. Heralded by the Angel Gabriel along with a series of mysterious events such as but not limited to his father Zechariah being stricken dumb until he was named John, which in itself was also strange in view of the naming tradition of the Jews. John is a sign that God has been gracious, and a special favor has been granted… not only for Zechariah and Elizabeth but for all the Jews, and for all the world at all times.
He was to be the sign of the Messiah’s coming with his life and work calling out for repentance of his people, and thereby prepared the hearts of the people for the ultimate blessing of God’s visitation. And this he did when the appropriate time came. Rich and poor, powerful and weak, all came in droves to the desert where he preached. Some even mistook him for a prophet who has returned; some others, the Messiah. Prepare the people he did by disturbing them from their complacency, if not by making them return to God. He captured the imagination of the people that indeed they were living at a most auspicious time. To go back to our metaphor, he ran a good race, and willingly accepted his end when he came to know that the Messiah had come for the anchor run.
As we celebrate the birth of St. John the Baptist to honor God in his movement that engages and involves everyone, from the lowliest to the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, may we also wholeheartedly give our time, treasure and talent to enable and empower the people around us for the Kingdom. Like John, a voice crying out in the wilderness, let our lives shine to be witnesses of our Lord Jesus Christ to the world in this time of darkness.