The scripture readings for today all have to do with the life of St. John the Baptist whose birth we celebrate today. When I read about John the Baptist my reaction is that he led a strange life. He was the child of his parents' old age and apparently lost both of them while he was still a youth. 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 spent his time near the river Jordan where he baptized people in the river 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 followers and suggested that they follow Jesus instead of him. Several years later John was imprisoned by King Herod. His short life ended abruptly when he was beheaded in prison by order of Herod.
Judged by our modern standards the life of St. John the Baptist does appear out of the ordinary. I find myself wondering if John ever had any fun. I wonder whether he had many friends during his childhood. I wonder whether he ever did much that was enjoyable to him. It is true that John lived a very long time ago and in a very different world from our own. However, I still wonder whether he was like other children and young men of his time. But I am also very aware that John the Baptist was being led in a special way by Almighty God during his life here on earth.
Throughout history God has chosen certain women and men for very special tasks. John the Baptist was certainly one of them. God chose him to play a role in the history of salvation. John played that role and played it well. 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. In so doing 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."
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