Six months before Christ’s birth, John the Baptist was born to the prophet Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. I am not accurate of their ages but I think Elizabeth was about 90 yrs. old and Zechariah was about 100 yrs. Old The Angel Gabriel came to Zechariah in the temple and told him the good news of John’s birth. John was to be a great man in the sight of God. He was chosen to go to Israel to preach before the coming of Jesus. Zechariah was in disbelief and Gabriel took his voice from him until the day of John’s birth.
Elizabeth became pregnant and knew it was divine because she had waited so long for a child and a woman during that time was disgraced if she was barren. She thanked God for His favor on her.
For a woman to have a child at her age was big gossip. Word even got to Mary and she traveled to see her cousin and rejoiced with her. Herod also heard about this birth and thought he could also be the messiah, and sought after him. Elizabeth went on the run protecting her son, she prayed out to God and he had a mountain open up and hid them from Herod. Herod had Zechariah murdered because he preached of the coming Messiah. Herod did not want to lose his kingdom. Elizabeth died 40 days after, how, we do not know.
Then John was in the wilderness until he appeared and went out to preach.
John’s life of solitude- It is hard to think of what age he was without his parents, but I think it was fairly young, but even the Angel Gabriel said John would be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.
John spent his childhood solely with God and nature. He did not live in the world.
I have been reading “A search for Solitude, the Journals of Thomas Merton Pursuing the Monk’s True Life.” Merton wanted nothing more than to be alone in nature with just God.
“September 15, 1952
Out here in the woods I can think of nothing except God and it is not so much that I think of him either. I am as aware of Him as of the sun and the clouds and the blue sky and the thin cedar trees. When I first came out here, I was sleepy (because we are in the Winter season and no longer have meridienne) but I have read a few lines from the Desert Fathers and then, after that, my whole being was full of serenity and vigilance.”
Dec. 29. 1052
“Not solitude for the sake of something special, something exalted: solitude as the climate in which I can simply be what I am meant to be, and live in the presence of the living God. Solitude in order to be a simple Christian. Like climbing down from a mountain or a pillar or starting over again to behave as a human being- I need solitude for the true fulfillment which I seek-that of being ordinary.
Life in the world was utterly abnormal.
Life in the monastery if not ordinary. It is a freakish sort of life. The freakishness is not St. Benedict’s fault, but maybe it is necessary. In solitude, at last, I shall be just a person, no longer corrupted by being known, no longer creating myself in the image of a slightly unbalanced society. Living in the likeness of the God who is my life: that is to say, living as unknown. For a Christian is one whom the world does not know.
‘Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the children of God, and such we are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”
1 John 3:1
I am not Catholic, but I have attended Mass a lot of times with my mother. I don’t have any reason for choosing this book from the library last week, but as I began reading it, I began reading it aloud. I am halfway through it and some of his words brought me to tears. I did not know why I was reading it, but now I know it is to better understand the solitary life of John the Baptist and his relationship with God, and also the constant seeking of God. Even a monk – a bible scholar- seeks God and a deeper spiritual life with God. One would think just choosing the life of a monk would be sufficient but that was not so with Merton.
Just the same, choosing life as a Christian is not enough, we have to seek God and a life with God.
John the Baptist and Jesus Christ - two children born specific for God's purpose. Two childhoods very much a mystery, both lived a life of ministry, both murdered. One resurected- Jesus Christ. One to return again- Jesus Christ. Praise God!
On this tenth day of Advent, I am humble.
Peace and Mercy from God our father.