The Birth of St. John the Baptist

The Lord called me from birth. (Isaiah 49:1)

What do you think is the most amazing thing about John the Bap­tist? His zeal for the Lord? His pas­sionate preaching? Maybe his gift of self-denial or the humility he dis­played despite his fame?

How about this instead: Even as a fetus, John leapt for joy in the pres­ence of the Virgin Mary because she was carrying the Son of God. John was still an unborn baby, barely aware of life outside of the womb, and yet the muffled, quiet sound of Mary’s greeting filled him with joy.

John’s leap may remind us of Rebecca, who also felt an unusual amount of activity from the twins in her womb. She asked God why this was happening, and he told her that something spiritual and prophetic was going on inside of her (Genesis 25:20-23). King David also leapt before the Ark of the Covenant. He loved God so much he couldn’t con­tain himself (2 Samuel 6:14-15). The prophet Isaiah wrote that in the age to come, when the glory of the Lord is made manifest, the lame will leap for joy (Isaiah 35:4-6).

John’s joy shows us that there is a part of us that can recognize God, something encoded deep in the way he made us. It’s in all of us, not just the great saints and the unborn. It’s also something that the Holy Spirit wants to bring to life in each of us. He wants to fill us all with joy as we sense the presence of the Lord.

So let’s honor John the Baptist today. As a bridge between the Old and New Testaments, John truly is one of the greatest saints of the church. But let’s never forget that his relationship with Jesus—especially his ability to recognize the Lord and rejoice in him—is something we all can experience. Every one of us can leap for joy as we prepare this world for the coming of Christ the King!

“Lord, I want to see you. Come show yourself to me, and fill my heart with joy.”