Today we recall both the birth, and the life-long commitment, of John the Baptist. This is a day on which we question ourselves about our commitment to doing God’s work.
Later in John’s life, when his disciples complained over Jesus becoming more popular than him, John straightened them out by saying, “He must increase, while I must decrease.” We should all say that vis-a-vis Christ, but we fall miserably short of being able to say it. Our self-love crowds Christ out of our concerns.
In the seminary we studied the Gospel of Luke in a Latin that didn’t give us any laughs; but when we came to the naming the child on his eighth day, and when the neighbors wanted to call him Zecharia after his father, we all got a laugh. Where our English quoted Elizabeth as saying, “By no means!” the Latin had the eighty-year-old mother crying out “Nequaquam!”
If you ever happen to be in Quebec on June 24th , you might see everyone celebrating the birth of John as their provincial holy day. On that open field above the St. Lawrence that they call “the plains of Abraham,” they have a massive bonfire where the young men snatch flaming torches from the fire, and everyone cheers for them and for St. John.