Our scripture readings for today all have to do with the life of St. John the Baptist whose Nativity we celebrate today. It would seem he led a strange and solitary life. He was the child of his parents’ old age and probably lost both of them while he was still very young.
We know that as a young man he went out to the Sinai desert where he lived a solitary life for some years. When he was about 30, he came back to Judea and lived near the River Jordan where he baptized people and preached about repentance for sin. When Jesus began His public life and teaching, John heralded His coming and its significance for the people of Israel. John pointed out Jesus to his own followers and suggested that they follow Jesus instead of himself. Years later, John was imprisoned by King Herod. His short life ended abruptly when Herod ordered him beheaded in prison.
I wonder if John ever had any fun. I wonder whether he had many friends during his childhood, whether he ever did much that was enjoyable to him. It’s true that John lived in a different time, in a world very different from ours. Yet I still wonder whether he was like other children and young men of his time. But I am also aware that John the Baptist was being led in a special way by God during his life here on Earth.
Throughout history, God has chosen certain women and men for very special tasks and clearly John the Baptist was one of them. God chose him to play a key role in the history of salvation. He spent his life doing what God asked of him. And so questions about his childhood and how he lived his life are not really so important. The important thing about the life of John the Baptist is that he spent his life doing the will of God. He gives all of us a tremendous example of fidelity to the will of God. His example teaches us how important it is for us to do the will of God in our own lives.
When John the Baptist died, I am sure that God rewarded him for his fidelity. John was certainly one who heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of My Kingdom.”
Oh, how we should strive to hear the same!