John the Baptist

The birth of John was miraculous: Luke tells us his parents were beyond the age of having children; Elizabeth, John’s mother, was sterile. Still miraculously, John leaped in his mother’s womb at the presence of Jesus, in the womb of Mary. That John is mentioned in the Gospels at all is miraculous: he never became a follower of Jesus, asking to the end, "Are you the one to come, or should we wait for another?" Why does Luke begin his story of Jesus with the conception and birth of John? Cartainly, later in life John defended with his total person the God he adored and served. But more to the point for Luke was his realization, then presentation in Gospel form, that the mighty salvation of human beings began with God’s eruption into human affairs with the announcement that Elizabeth would have a child. With her conception of John the salvation of the world began. This salvation would be offere to the end of the world, Luke says: at the moment we are that ’end of the world’. Salvation comes from calling on the name of Jesus, but the beginning of God’s decision to save began in the womb of Elizabeth. She was the first, but hardly the last of us, to rejoice at the kindness of God. John Kilgallen, S.J.

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