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Molly CahillJune 21, 2024
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Find today’s readings here.

“All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
‘What, then, will this child be?’
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.” (Lk 1:66, 80)

It can be challenging to see God’s fingerprints on our lives as we experience them in the moment. It’s often helpful to do a kind of spiritual retrospective.

As today’s Gospel relays, John the Baptist’s birth was surrounded by quite a bit of hullabaloo. His father Zechariah, who had previously lost his ability to speak, chooses a name for his newborn son that no one in their family shares. When he writes the name on a tablet, the Gospel tells us that “his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.”

When a new baby comes into the world, their parents and family members wonder what they will be like and who they will become as they grow. They ask the same question that people asked about baby John the Baptist a couple thousand years ago: “What, then, will this child be?”

I’m not a parent, but watching the growth of people I’ve long cherished in my life gives me a little idea of what that experience of wondering and hoping might be like.

I met my fiancé during the first week of our freshman year of college. On that day almost eight years ago, we could never have known how a pleasant conversation in the dining hall and his offer to help me carry my books back to the dorm would blossom into a promise to be together until death do us part.

Those years between the beginning of college and our mid-20s are formative ones, a time in your life when you change and grow substantially. When I met my fiancé, he was a boy; now, he is an adult. When we met, he was already fun and smart and kind, but I couldn’t have imagined how those qualities would deepen as he matured over the course of eight years, or how the new life experiences we had as we transitioned into adulthood would inform the person he is today.

I look back at our old pictures and read our old letters, and I recognize the person I know—and yet there are key differences. It’s like seeing a seed that I didn’t even know I’d be able to watch blossom.

The impacts of God’s hand intertwine—they are influences on his life and influences, through his love and kindness, on mine. Today, when I look back on our meeting and the early days of our friendship in hindsight, the growth over time is staggering; God’s fingerprints are everywhere.

Now that I know this about our lives together in retrospect, I try to apply it to my thinking about our future. As we look forward to getting married, I often reflect about what God will bring in this new phase of our lives, and like John the Baptist’s family members and neighbors, I wonder and hope for what it will be like in decades when I look at my now-fiancé, by-then spouse, and I can see that who he is now is just a seed, just the beginning of who he’ll be by then.

My prayer is that we’ll both pay attention to how the hand of God is guiding us and how it brings us together. May our relationship, like the Gospel describes John the Baptist, be “strong in spirit.”

More: Scripture

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