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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nativity of John the Baptist

We celebrate the birthday today of John the Baptist; it is an early feast in the Church perhaps because it shows us that John was six months older than Jesus. John was called to prepare the way of the Lord.
John had his own special vocation. Jesus did not call him to be one of the Twelve Apostles, although he did chose some of John's disciples. Indeed, Jesus and John seem to have little face-to-face contact from John's birth to his beheading. We only know of the moment when Jesus went to the Jordan to be baptized by John. Jesus then moved on and did not stay with John.
Was John an Essene monk? One of my Scripture professors thought this and gave a list of reasons for his conclusion that John was an Essene or had been brought up in the desert by the Essene monks. Some of the reasons that I remember are: John's parents were old and there was a tradition that the sons of priests were educated by the Essenes; his dress and diet were those of an Essene; they stayed in the desert and so did John; and, finally, only Essenes were supposed to preach to Herod's court. Luke tells us in today's Gospel that "the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel."

We, like John the Baptist, are called to prepare the way of the Lord. Each has a personal vocation. We are "wonderfully made"!! Let us ask today to know our vocation within the vocation that we have followed because God called us. He continues to call us at every age.

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