This post is a continuation of the recycle from 2012.
Bookends, let me use that phrase. I am referring to the bookends of the Nativities of Jesus and John. Similar, and yet different, but in a way bookends. John, the conclusion of the Old Testament. Jesus, the beginning of the New.
These are short and quick thoughts, a continuation of a dialogue.
What is the thought? It’s not really a thought but an emotion. John “leapt” in his mother’s womb. The leap is a joyful and exuberant emotion. (the leap, he is sanctified, made holy.) It is not condemning and doom, it is positive. The emphasis is that this exchange at “the Visitation” is enthusiastic. The people of the Old Testament longed for the Messiah, and that one has arrived. A celebration, a birth, and not a funeral. I am focusing on the transition of Old versus New, and the nature of that transition. Joyful. Good News.
“Ah, Lord GOD!” I said,
“I know not how to speak; I am too young.”
But the LORD answered me,
Say not, “I am too young.”
To whomever I send you, you shall go;
whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Have no fear before them,
because I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD. Jer 1:4-10
With that thought l look at the birth of John. John is the last of the old prophets, and is also celebrated in the New Testament. John can be looked at as a historic figure, he was well known. He also can be looked at with a bit of poetic license. He is the prophet that leads one into the Jesus Narrative. Like Moses, he is the one that brings people into a new era. With John, the people are guided into a new experience. In a very philosophical sense that is his baptism, it brings people across a metaphysical red sea, from Moses to Jesus. Joyfully. The fulfillment of a promise. Something people have waited for.
That then is the bookends of which I speak. Those bookends mirrored in the Liturgy of the Hours. The Canticle of Zechariah, and the Magnificat. They speak of the dawn of a new day. (One more thing. Johns life is one of preparing for someone that follows in the future. Preparing for someone else. Philosophy, a way of life.)
For John the Baptist, on the feast of his nativity. A few things that I have learned regarding Catholic customs. On this day, John’s birthday, bonfires are frequently set ablaze. Bonfires? They produce light. Light as it lights the way, makes way for the Lord. They guide, and keep one from stumbling. That is something to remember. Near finally, Saint John’s Wort: a herb used to treat depression. Need I say more?