There are only 3 feast days on the Church calendar when we celebrate birthdays or nativities – the Nativity of Our Lord, Dec. 25, the Nativity of Our Lady, Sept 8, and today, the Nativity of John the Baptist, June 24. All other saint’s feast days mark their deaths. But today is different because John the Baptist is different.
One of the first things we hear about him in the gospel of John is:
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. (Jn 1:6-9)
Everything he did & said pointed to Jesus:
- He leapt for joy in his mother’s womb at the very presence of Jesus (Lk 1:41)
- “The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” (Jn 1:15)
- “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’” (Jn 1:23)
- “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mk 1:7-8)
- …he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (Jn 1:29)
- “I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” (Jn 1:31)
- John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.” (Jn 1:32-34)
- “He must increase; I must decrease” (Jn 3:30)
Today is my grandmother’s birthday. She and my grandfather moved into an in-law apartment in my parents’ home when I was 8 years old. She lived there until she passed away 11 years ago at the age of 91. We were very close, and I still miss her tremendously. We had a unique relationship. We were grandmother & granddaughter, but we were also sisters in the Lord. She always pointed me to Jesus. I can still see her face & hear her voice in the many ways she witnessed her love for the Lord. “Praise the Lord” was one of her favorite expressions. “I love my Holy Catholic Faith!” she would exclaim with hands clasped & eyes toward heaven. There were so many ways she shined with the light of Christ and shined that light on all of us.
We are called to do the same – to point the way to Jesus. We can do that by decreasing so that He will increase; by testifying to the Truth; by leaping for joy in the presence of the Lord. We can do that by what we say & what we don’t say; by how we pray; by how we love.
My hope & prayer is that I will be that person for my husband and children and those around me; that I will only point to Jesus. It is the foundation of our baptismal call. This day, I pray the same for you.