Saturday, December 10, 2011


HIS DIET WAS SPARTAN. You could tell
he'd spent years in isolation,
breaking loose from social conventions
to which the rest of us cheerfully adhere.
He was, in other words, a strangely free individual.
Fear had no claims on him,
so he could speak the truth as he understood it.
When he talked, he yelled,
and the topic of his rants was always religion.
If you saw this man on the street today,
you'd cross to the other side for sure.
Who would want to be a friend of John the Baptist?
Alice Camille, U.S. Catholic, Dec., '07
John the Baptist: Forerunner of the Redeemer
 by Jeanne Kun
John the Baptist is one the central figures whom we meet over and over again in the Scripture texts chosen for use in the Advent liturgy. He stands at the threshold between the Old and New Testaments, a bridge linking the two. In John we see the culmination of centuries of prophecy, anticipation, and preparation.
The Baptist appeared out of the desert in the spirit and power of Elijah (see Kings 1:8; Matt. 3:4; Luke 1:17).  Thus Elijah prefigured John as a prophetic figure consumed with zeal for the glory of the Lord. As Jesus himself asserted, "'Elijah is indeed coming, and he will restore everything. I assure you, though, that Elijah has already come, but they did not recognize him and they did as they pleased with him. The Son of Man will suffer at their hands in the same way'. The disciples then realized that he had been speaking to them about
 John the Baptizer."
 (Matt. 17:11-13).
Not only was John's person foreshadowed in Elijah,
but his coming and role were foretold and announced by Isaiah and Malachi. John filled Isaiah's prophetic description as he came proclaiming a call to repentance: "I send my messenger before you to prepare your way; a herald's voice in the desert, crying, 'Make ready the way of the Lord, clear him a straight path'" (Mark 1:2-3; see Isa. 40:3). Malachi summoned Israel to repentance in the days after the exile and rebuilding of the temple and announced a coming day of judgment, the "day of the Lord", which was to be preceded by a special emissary of God: "Lo, I am sending my messenger  to  prepare the way before me" (Mal. 3:1).
This verse from Malachi was directly applied to John
 by Jesus as he told the crowds about John:
"It is about this man that Scripture says, 'I send my messenger ahead of you, to prepare the way before you'" (Matt.11:10). Jesus continued, verifying that John's testimony was indeed from God: "I solemnly assure you, history has not known a man born of woman greater than John the Baptizer. Yet the least born into the kingdom of God is greater than he. From John the Baptizer's time until now the kingdom of God has suffered violence, and the violent have taken it by force. All the prophets as well as the law spoke prophetically until John. If you are prepared to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who was certain to come" (Matt. 11:11-14).
John broke the prophetic silence that had followed Malachi for several hundred years.  His message was remarkably like that of the great Old Testament prophets who had so often chided Israel for her sins and tried to waken her to true repentance. But his message went even further: John proclaimed that the good news of the kingdom of God was now at hand and exhorted his hearers to prepare for it by purifying their hearts.
Edited from Paper 135
John the Baptist was born March 25, 7 B.C.,
in accordance with the promise that Gabriel
made to Elizabeth in June of the previous year.
For five months Elizabeth kept secret Gabriel's visitation;
and when she told her husband, Zacharias, he was
greatly troubled and fully believed her narrative
only after he had an unusual dream about six weeks
before the birth of John. Excepting the visit
of Gabriel to Elizabeth and the dream of Zachiarias,
there was nothing unusual or supernatural
connected with the birth of John the Baptist.
When sixteen years old, John, as a result of reading
 about Elijah, became greatly impressed
with the prophet of Mount Carmel and decided
to adopt his style of dress. From that day on
John always wore a hairy garment with a
leather girdle. At sixteen he was more
than six feet tall and almost full grown.
With his flowing hair and peculiar mode of dress
he was indeed a picturesque youth.
And his parents expected great things of
this their only son, a child of promise
and a Nazarite for life.
After an illness of several months Zacharias
 died in July, A.D. 12, when John was just past
eighteen years of age. In September of this year
Elizabeth and John made a journey to Nazareth to visit
Mary and Jesus. John had just about made up his mind
to launch out in his lifework, but he was admonished,
not only by Jesus' words but also by his example,
to return home, take care of his mother and
await the "coming of the Father's hour."
After bidding Jesus and Mary good by at the end
of this enjoyable visit, John did not again see
Jesus until the event of the baptism in the Jordan.
In the so-called "wilderness of Judea" John
tended his sheep along a brook that was tributary
to a larger stream which entered the Dead Sea
at Engedi. The Engedi colony included not only
Nazarites of lifelong and time-period consecration
but numerous other ascetic herdsmen who congregated
in this region with their herds and fraternized with
the Nazarite brotherhood. They supported themselves
by sheep raising and from gifts which
wealthy Jews made to the order.
From all John heard of the vice and wickedness.
of Rome and the dissoluteness and moral bareness of
the empire, from what he knew of the evil doings
of Herod Antipas and the governors of Judea,
he was minded to believe that the end of the age
was impending. It seemed to this rugged and noble
child of nature that the world was ripe for
the end of the age of man and the dawn
of the new and divine age -
the kingdom of heaven.
The feeling grew in John's heart that he was to be
the last of the old prophets and the first of the new.
And he fairly vibrated with the mounting impulse to
go forth and proclaim to all men:
"Repent! Get right with God! Get ready
for the end; prepare yourselves for the appearance
of the new and eternal order of earth affairs,
the kingdom of heaven."

John The Baptist

John the Baptist was a wild- looking man,
With his camel- hair coat and his desert tan,
His food was dried locusts dipped in wild honey,
A common food then for those without money.

He preached in the wilderness of Judea,
Multitudes came from far and near,
To hear his message of salvation,
Baptism, repentance and preparation.

Make the way straight, was his often cry,
For the One who is coming, behold it's not I,
Even His sandals, I'm not worthy to loose.
(Preaching like this can lead to abuse. )

The abuse was forthcoming from Pharisees,
Not far behind, the corrupt Sadducees,
They held the sway in religion and law,
Heaven knows what they were good for.

John accused, You guys are snakes,
Not only that, hypocrites and fakes,
You don't have at all just what it takes,
Repent or you're doomed to the fiery lakes.

God will sort out the wheat from the chaff,
He cuts out the goats with His shepherd's staff,
You say you're the seed, of Abraham,
Thinking like that got you into this jam.

The Lord can raise up the rocks and the stones,
He's in charge of the Kings and their thrones,
Your place can be taken by those who believe,
Depart now vile serpents, find someone else to deceive.

Then Jesus came down to be baptized by John,
Who replied in clear terms it was surely not on,
It was he who should be cleansed at the hand of the Lord,
Not the other way round as it seemed untoward.

But Jesus prevailed at the Jordan that day,
As he rose from the water, the Father did say,
In a Heavenly voice, as the Spirit on to Him eased,
This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.

From the website


One of Domenico Veneziano's (1410-1461) major works is an altarpiece
 that he painted about 1445 for the Church of Santa Lucia dei Magnoli,
 in Florence. The incident illustrated in this small panel from
 the base of the altarpiece is John's act of exchanging his rich,
 worldly clothes for a rough, camel–hair coat. In the few known
 representations of John in the wilderness that preceded
 Domenico's version, the emphasis was placed either on the
 divine origin of the saint's animal skin or on his preaching.
 Domenico, however, shifted attention from mere narration to
 the spiritual significance of John's decision to forsake luxury in
  favor of a life of piety.
Rather than showing the saint in the usual manner, as a
 mature, bearded hermit, Domenico painted a youthful figure.
 Clearly classical in appearance, his saint is one of the earliest
 embodiments of the Renaissance preoccupation with antique
 models. However, a fusion of pagan and Christian ideas is
 suggested; the Grecian type is transformed into a religious
 being by the golden halo above his head. Another innovative
 combination of elements exists in the arrangement of this male
 nude in a landscape that retains artistic features from the High
  Gothic era of the late Middle Ages. Symbolic rather than
 realistic, the rugged mountains enliven the drama of John's
 decision by emphasizing the desolate nature of his chosen
From The National Gallery of Art website -
In medieval art John the Baptist is identified by his finger.
A long, slender, bony index finger on his right hand.
Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting St. John the Baptist is the most significant painting of his finger. Without question he wants the viewer to focus on his index finger.
He dressed more awkwardly than a hipster (camel’s hair) and ate more disgusting things than a reality television eating contest (locusts dipped in honey), but what he did with his finger was the most important thing about him. In high church tradition, this is recognized traditionally during the second week of Advent each year. In fact, in the Nelson-Atkins Museum holds what is believed to be (at least in tradition) the actual finger of John the Baptist.
And John the Baptist is identified by his finger for good reason: he’s the one who pointed people away from himself and towards Jesus. “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). In fact, it was the calling on his life.
From the website

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