Pope on John the Baptist

At this time of year, we meditate on the mysterious role of St. John the Baptist.

Two brief insights from our Holy Father’s book about the gospels:

1. John the Baptist inherited the hereditary Old-Covenant priesthood from his father Zechariah.

Benedict Jesus of Nazareth InfancyIn addition to being hereditary, the old priesthood was also episodic. You ministered in the Temple for your period of service; then you went back home to your ordinary daily life.

In other words, you were not always a priest. Sometimes, you stood in the Temple to pray and offer sacrifice. The rest of the time, you did other non-liturgical, non-sacrificial things.

John, however, lived out his inherited priesthood in a new way. He consecrated himself for life—and for constant priestly exercise. John the Baptist offered God the sacrifice of his entire heart, mind, soul, and strength in the temple of the desert.

John thus formed the bridge between the priesthood of the Old Covenant and that of the New. The Lord Jesus inaugurated a universal priesthood that operates like John exercised his. All of us who have been baptized into Christ have received the priesthood by which everything we do, everything we are, everything we suffer—all of it can be offered to the Father as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. For the holy priests of the new People of God, there is no moment of human life that does not have eternal significance.

2. St. John fulfills the mission of Elijah, which is precisely to declare that the fullness of time has come.

All the preceding work of creation and history served as a preparation for the moment that had now arrived: God Himself was coming to the earth in Person.

Therefore, the appearance of Elijah, in the person of John the Baptist, means: Prepare!

When the in-laws come over for turkey or ham, we dust the house and straighten up. But the time has now come for the visit of Almighty God Himself.

…Click HERE for a compendium of all of St. John the Baptist’s sayings.

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