Saint Luke mentions the birth of Saint John in his gospel and then we have to jump over 30 years to meet him again. But we can imagine that Jesus and John used to meet regularly throughout their childhood and later since they are from the same family. Many artists, like the Spanish painter Bartolome Esteban, have represented the two characters together and their paintings can be used as good visual aids for our meditation. Since the day when he sanctified John in the womb of his mother, Jesus has prepared his prophet for his very particular task which was to give testimony of His mission and of His person, as we can hear from Saint John the Evangelist at the end of the Mass: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. (Jn.1:6-8)
The fourth Evangelists speak about Saint John and Saint Mark says that he was in the desert baptizing and preaching. (Mk.1:4) This sentence shows that Saint John the Baptist does not belong entirely to the Old Testament any more. Something new is coming. He baptizes and even if his Baptism is not yet one of the Seven Sacraments of the New Covenant, it is already an anticipation, a close figure of our actual Baptism. With John the Baptist, we are already introduced to the New Covenant in a certain way. Baptizing and preaching are indeed proper acts of the priests of the New Law since Jesus told His disciples to go to the whole world, to preach and to baptize.
Let us be clear: John the Baptist is not a priest of the New Testament. He is the last prophet who announces and inaugurates the ministry of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He does even more: he announces and reveals Jesus Himself. He shows Him to the world: Ecce Agnus Dei!
Ecce Agnus Dei: Behold the lamb of God! Saint John the Baptist indicates our goal. He does not bring people to himself but to Our Lord. His works and even his person are nothing in comparison to the person and the works of Jesus. He tells us: I am not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoe! (Mk.1:7) What a beautiful example of humility for us who esteem ourselves often as indispensable for our community, our parish, our diocese or whatever you want. As I like to say, cemeteries are full of indispensable people already forgotten by the world! And sooner or later, God will remind us that we are not as indispensable as we believe.
Saint John the Baptist is really a great man because he considers himself as nothing. He knows what is essential for his mission: He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30) Saint John the Baptist does not live for himself and for his glory. His life has even no value and he would give it without hesitation when it would be necessary to give the supreme testimony to the truth.
Ecce Agnus Dei! Behold the Lamb of God. Here He is, the One who will soon give you a new Baptism. My mission is now over. Do not follow me now, but follow Him! He is the light! Follow Him!
John is a disciple; He is truly and completely a disciple, as we are supposed to be, my dear Brethren! Like him, we are supposed to show the world where Jesus Christ is and to tell who He is. Ecce Agnus Dei! He is the Savior, the Redeemer, the only One who can save us. And He is present among us, through His Church, in His Church, by His Church. He is even present physically in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. We obviously don’t worship a piece of bread, but the Lamb of God, the same one designated by Saint John the Baptist. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world is present here, in the tabernacle, among us.
We have to tell it to our contemporaries; we must tell them! It is our duty and our mission. We cannot keep Jesus Christ for ourselves. And by the way, if we were truly loving disciples of Jesus, we would be missionaries almost naturally, because it is a natural consequence of love to spread and to share. If I love Jesus Christ, I also want Him to be loved by everybody.
Remember the beautiful prayer taught by the Angel to the Children of Fatima: "My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You!" We should say this prayer every day and I hope you do. But it is not enough! It is not enough to ask pardon for those who do not believe. We must make them believe. It is not enough to ask pardon for those who do not adore. We must make them adore. It is not enough to ask pardon for those who do not hope. We must make them hope. It is not enough to ask pardon for those who do not love. We must make them love. And if we believe enough, if we adore enough, if we hope enough and if we love enough, then, it is possible.
May Saint John the Baptist show us the way and encourage us by his example. May Our Blessed Mother make us witnesses of the light in the world, for the highest glory of God.