The Life of St. John the Baptist is depicted in this Icon
You know Luke’s marvelous account of the Visitation, when Mary greets Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s baby leaps for joy within her womb. Let’s look at this from a different angle:
Previously the Angel Gabriel had told Elizabeth’s husband that her son John “will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Lk1:15).
Mary is pregnant with Unborn Jesus when she arrives at the home of Elizabeth, greets her and then unborn John leaps for joy. The leap signifies that John has just been “filled with the Holy Spirit”.
Let’s look at how the Catechism of the Catholic Church comments on the scene: “John was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb’ by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people” (#717). Note carefully that John is filled with the Holy Spirit by Christ himself. It is Christ Unborn – perhaps but a week old within His mother’s womb – who acts, who initiates.
But the Catechism goes on to say that the visit is truly a visit “from God” – that is, Unborn Jesus – “to his people” – that is, primarily to unborn John. So unborn John represents the people of God – that is, the Church.
What happens when “God” visits “his people”? He pours His Spirit into them. One of the greatest documents from Vatican II is Lumen Gentium (“Christ is the light of humanity…” it begins). It refers to the Church as “the people of God” and tells us that Christ “sent the Holy Spirit to all to move them interiorly to love God…” (LG 40). Of course, this is what He did for unborn John the Baptist!
In a section specifically about the laity, Lumen Gentium specifically teaches: “The laity become powerful heralds of the faith in things to be hoped for (cf. Heb 11:1) if they join unhesitating profession of faith to the life of faith” (LG 35). This is what unborn John did! After Mary, he was the first ‘herald of the faith’ through his ‘unhesitating profession of faith’! (For if he experienced joy he must have been given the gift – even if only temporarily – of reason, and thus also the gift of faith in his Redeemer. So the Church Fathers believed.) By leaping, he is heralding the faith. The first layman was an unborn layman!
Lumen Gentium also states: “Every lay person, through those gifts given to him, is at once the witness and the living instrument of the mission of the Church itself ‘according to the measure of Christ’s bestowal’ (Eph 4:7)” (LG 33). After Mary, Unborn John is the Church’s first “witness” and “living instrument of the mission of the Church”.
Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment