“What then will this child be?” How many parents, marveling at the mystery of their newborn nestled in their arms have asked the same question. “What will this child be?”
We are certain that God has a plan for great people who populate the pages of Scripture and have an important part to play in the story of salvation. We can think of Moses, and Jeremiah, and Peter, and Mary, and Paul. We can imagine the divine plan prepared for them which unfolded day by day in their life. When we read the narrative of their response to God who called them for a specific purpose, we might be a little bit in awe of how God used them and how clearly he loved them. Maybe even a bit jealous. “That could never be me.”
Today is the feast of one of these “greats” of salvation history: the birth of John the Baptist. The mystery and the miracles that surrounded his birth indicate how important he was as a hinge between the Old Testament prophets and the arrival of the Messiah. The Baptist’s austere life and courageous preaching when he became an adult confirm the divine predilection God had for this child.
He truly could say with the words of the responsorial psalm today:
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
My soul also you knew full well;
nor was my frame unknown to you
When I was made in secret,
when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.
These words of the psalm came spontaneously to my mind one difficult yet amazing day 40 years ago. I remember it so clearly. I was sitting on the side of my bed in the hospital after having suffered a stroke. On that day, I was finally able to stand up with the help of two of the nurses. How marvelous! How amazing is the human body! We are truly “fearfully, wonderfully made,” and how “wonderful are your works,” O God. Look, today I can stand!
Whether we are the greatest prophet who ever lived as was John the Baptist, or someone sitting on the side of a hospital bed struggling to stand up for the first time in a week, God has a plan for our life.
Remember, you are important to God and play a vital role in the story of salvation.
In your mother’s womb God loved you more than your own parents. He created you as a unique expression of his image and his glory.
Surely, the hand of the Lord was with you, and he continues to be with you each day of your life. As the courageous and difficult life of St. John the Baptist reveals, in both happy times and in paths filled with shadows, on mountain tops and in the deepest of valleys, you are fulfilling the very special purpose for which you alone were created. It is only as we wander through these ups and downs of life, faithful to allowing God to have his way with us, that we discover truly who we were made to be.
Photo credit: Cathopic