Thursday, June 24, 2010

Preparing the Way

"The Bible gives us no figure more isolated than John the Baptist, who does not quite fit the Old Testament or the New. The fragmentary reports about him frustrate anyone who would assemble from them a full portrait." Hans Urs von Balthasar, You Have Words of Eternal Life, Scripture Meditations"

Today we celebrate the nativity of John the Baptist. God has granted his parents Zechariah and Elizabeth a child whose task was to prepare the way for the Christ:
In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years.Once when he was serving as priest in his division's turn before God, according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.

Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering,the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.
But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.

And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of (the) Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother's womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
John the Baptist born to elderly parents, a barren women is to announce to thw world the Coming. And even in the womb of Elizabeth he recognizes Jesus the Christ is soon to arrive:
During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy!
In a sense we are to be like John the Baptist to both ourselves spiritually preparing for the Christ to enter our lives and to prepare those we evangelize to encouter Him. John gave us the the advice to best do that. " I must decrease and He must increase."

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