By Jim Dunn, Novalis author of “CrossWord Christian” and blog contributor
St John the Baptist whose birthday we celebrate this month on June 24th, allows me great memories and pause for reflection. A born and raised Quebecer, I have always had a special place in my heart for this saint. In 1908, he was deemed the patron saint of Quebec. As a child, this day was noted with great excitement as elementary school always ended for the summer on or around June 23rd. So the feast of “la Saint-Jean” was like the trophy after a long academic stretch. The holiday was marked with much merriment, such as picnics, fireworks and, of course, the anticipation of two months off!
As I got older and learned more about St John the Baptist, he seemed to be quite the character. He was a Jewish preacher, rebellious and considered to be anti-establishment. He was different in his appearance and demeanour. He was kind of like a “rebel with a cause”, someone with whom a growing teenager could identify. He was raised to respect God and his message to those who would listen was a harsh one of warning and recommended repentance. He proclaimed the coming of the Lord and encouraged people to be baptized and change their ways. Known as Christ’s precursor, he laid the path for what was to come, the Messiah as prophesied by Isaiah. (Isaiah 40:3)
Recently, while walking, I came upon a real estate sign on someone’s lawn. It simply said, “Coming Soon”, a clear advance notice of a future property for sale. It struck me that this was somewhat like the message of John the Baptist. The Messiah was coming soon. It was a message of awareness, of anticipation of things to come, of advanced information to prepare. As I walked down the alley beside this house, I noticed a small crack in the fence. It was just big enough to see into the backyard with a partial view of the beautiful gardens and landscaping. The Baptist gave people that partial view. No one knew fully who or what the Messiah would be; yet, they were given hope through the tough words of John the Baptist. The best was yet to come. He completely understood that when the Lamb of God stood before him in the River Jordan seeking baptism, that it was time for him to decrease and that Christ should increase.
St. John the Baptist’s words of wisdom still resonate with us today. We live in a “coming soon” world. We do not know what is in store for us as we travel through life. His message of change and hope is as strong as it ever was. For those who have lost Christ or maybe have not yet discovered him, stay awake and be ready. Watch for the invitations that might allow you to increase Christ in your own life and to step back from complacency. Like John the Baptist himself, God is always a paradox and a surprise. Happy St. John the Baptist day!