The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Luke 1:57-66, 80
Behold the Lamb of God
"Behold, one is coming after me;" Act 13:25 Today is the vigil of birth of John the Baptist. John’s mission was to point out Christ to a confused and distracted world. He tried to get people’s attention to God’s momentous coming to us in His son Jesus! The greatest event the world would ever experience was endangered of not being noticed!
In the morning of the great Civil War battle at Shiloh General Grant and the federal troops had no idea that a huge army of more than 44,000 Confederate men were within 600 yards away ready to attack! It was amazing that the Union army survived much less as to win that great conflict! How easy it is to miss the most considerable in the trivial.
The world needs a John the Baptist now to take us by the shoulders and shake us that we might become aware of the earth-shattering presence of the Risen Christ who stands in our midst unnoticed by so many! Our eyesight is terribly bad and we need Spirit possessed prophets to open our eyes to this unthinkable presence of the loving and living Christ in our midst. "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." John 20:27. This was the charism of St Paul of the Cross to get in touch with God’s love in His Crucified Son.
What a sad and tragic thing it would be if we go through life without a deep awareness of this incredible love that God has for us. The thought that the great God would love us enough to send His only Son to die for us was "foolishness" to the ancient world of Rome. You can see on the wall of a soldiers’ barracks on Palatine Hill one of oldest depictions of the crucifixion of Jesus with the head of a donkey! It is a blasphemous crucifix. God would have to be a donkey to die for the likes of us!
Looking at this graffiti that is almost 2000 years old still makes me shiver! After so many years people today still have not comprehended this "foolish" love of God. May we heed the words of John the Baptist: "Behold the Lamb of God!"
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. preaches Parish Missions and is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.