Editor’s note: Dear reader, today is the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. This is one of three nativities that we celebrate, the other two being Christmas and the Nativity of the Mother of God, which we celebrate on September 8th.
To celebrate this prophet and forerunner, we offer you this short reflection on St. John the Baptist from the book A Storybook of Saints by Elizabeth Hanna Pham.
A Tale of St. John
People thought John was crazy. He almost never spoke. He slept in the wilderness like a wild man. He wore scratchy camel skins and ate nothing but honey and grasshoppers. Most people stayed far away from him.
But then one day, John came out of the wilderness. And he started talking.
He had a loud voice. A beautiful voice. And that loud voice said beautiful things. People started to listen. Then, they started to follow. They followed that voice back out into the wilderness. They sat on the dusty ground and listened closely as the voice echoed among the trees.
It told them that a Savior was coming—very soon! God was coming down to earth to save them from their sins.
He is coming! the loud voice rang out, and the people listened.
One day, the voice led the people to the river. Then John, with his great, strong arms, plunged them, one by one, into the water. At first, the people were afraid, but the water felt clean and fresh, and the voice sang out words that changed them inside. They knew that what John said was true and good.
But then, suddenly, the voice stopped.
The whole world went silent. A new man stepped into the water. He spoke to John quietly, and John spoke quietly back. John laid the man back and baptized Him, just as he had done the others. Then the world began to shake! The clouds ran away from each other. The sky split right down the middle, and a piercing light burst through the crack as down through it swirled a white bird that gently settled on the shoulder of the newly baptized man in the water.
A new Voice shattered the silence: the loudest Voice—maybe even the loudest sound in the whole world, but it didn’t hurt their ears. Everyone knew it was the voice of God, a voice like music, but it wasn’t singing. This is my beloved Son, it said.
Suddenly, John the Baptist didn’t seem so crazy anymore.
Saint John the Baptist
Born in Israel, First Century B.C.
Died circa A.D. 28–36
John the Baptist was one of the first people to recognize the presence of
Jesus when he leapt in the womb of his mother, Elizabeth, at the Visitation. As a grown man, John lived in the wild, eating locusts and honey and preaching the coming of the Savior. He was the first to perform baptisms, and he baptized Jesus Himself. John died a brave martyr at the hands of King Herod.