We in the Christian Church are in the Season of Advent. The word 'advent' is Latin for 'a coming or arrival'. Advent in the Church is a season of preparation; we are waiting for the arrival of the Christ Child on Christmas Day.
When we think of Advent and preparing the way of the Lord, we often think of John the Baptist. He is one we most closely associate with Advent, yet how much do we really know about him?
We know that John's parents, Zachary and Elizabeth, were childless and prayed that their union would be blessed by a child (Luke 1:6-7). Their prayers were answered when late in life, Zachary was visited by an angel of God who said, "...Thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John."
We know, too, that John the Baptist was related to Jesus Christ. Their mothers, Mary and Elizabeth, were cousins (Luke 1:36).
St. Luke tell us "the child grew, and was strengthened in spirit; and was in the deserts until the day of his manifestation to Israel (1:80).
In Matthew (3:1) we learn that John lived in the mountainous area of Judah, and his clothes were made of camel's hair and belted by leather. His food consisted of locusts and wild honey. (Matthew 3:4).
John had a popular ministry. "People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea, and the whole region of The Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the River Jordan (Matthew 3:5-6). Among his disciples were the future apostles Peter and Andrew.
John baptized Jesus Christ: "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me? Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." (Matthew 3:13-15).
John was questioned at the height of his popularity if he was the messiah and answered, "I am not the Christ, but I am sent ahead of Him." (John 3:28).
As Jesus Christ's ministry began to strengthen, John recognized that his own was coming to an end: "He must become greater; I must become less." (John 3:30).
St. John was a prophet who announced the coming of Jesus, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord.'"
Imprisoned and later executed, Jesus said of him to his followers, "John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light." (John 5:35).
John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. This is who was, and is, John the Baptist. The voice of one who cried out in the wilderness, a lamp who burned and gave light. No angels, shepherds, wise men, or stars heralded his coming (though the heavenly messenger Gabriel spoke to his father about his birth and call.) Yet from his obscure place in the wilderness he moved the world.
May we choose for a time to enjoy his light this Advent.
PRAYER: Lord, we thank You for being newly born into our world again this Christmas. Help us to slow down and enjoy the light of Advent as we prepare the way for You. Amen.