June 24th is the feast of the Nativity or Birth of St John the Baptist. There are only three such “nativity” feasts in the Church’s calendar; Christmas, the Nativity of our Lady and the Nativity of John the Baptist.
Referring to John the Baptist, Jesus says that “among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11) and further that for those who can accept it “he is Elijah, the one who is to come” (Matthew 11:14). John the Baptist forms a transition in the history of God’s work of salvation. John brings to an end the old and heralds the new. Malachi had prophesied that God would send a “messenger to prepare the way” of the Lord and foretold the return of the prophet Elijah before the coming of God’s kingdom (Malachi 3:23). John the Baptist fulfills the role of the herald or final prophet pointing to the coming Messiah. While the former prophets foretold a future kingdom, John the Baptist pointed to the actual king, saying “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). While the former prophets where moved by the Spirit, John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit in the womb and greeted our Lord at the Visitation by leaping in the womb.
I would like to suggest that the graces received by John in the womb are a type or a foreshadowing of the graces we receive in Baptism. The grace John received gave him a very specific vocation. He was called to be a witness and a herald to the coming Messiah. For John this involved a call to live a life of prayer and holiness. This foundation of prayer led John to courageously live out his daily life in relation to his faith, and further gave him the authority to call others live a greater unity between their faith and their daily life.
The fathers of Second Vatican Council have pointed out that each of us has a specific vocation based on our Christian Baptism. In Baptism we have been joined to Christ and so every one of us is called to be a holy. Each and every baptized Christian is called to be a saint. This vocation requires that we be more deeply joined to Christ in prayer and that the foundation of our Christian life be a deep understanding of God as our Father. The inner transformation of our soul should result in an impact on our daily life.
During the Second Vatican Council the fathers noted that the “breach between faith and daily life among so many must be considered one of the more serious errors of our time” (GS 43). While this was certainly true at the time of the council it is even truer today. Many people today live their faith one way, but their marriage in another way. Others live their faith one way but their business practices another way. Others separate their faith and their politics, or their faith and their respect for human dignity. As remedy to this problem the council admonishes us to follow the example of Christ. Like Christ who worked as a carpenter, the faithful “must fuse all human effort, domestic, professional, scientific, and technical in a vital synthesis with religious values which coordinate everything in the highest way to the God’s glory” (GS 43). This vital synthesis might be called a living a unity of life.
On this Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist let us courageously allow our faith to impact every area of our life.