prophets like John the Baptist


St. John, Chartres Cathedral

Today is the feast of the birthday of St. John the Baptist, one of only three births that the Catholic Church celebrates (the others being Christmas and Mary’s Nativity).

One of my favorite meditations on the Baptist was written in a Nazi prison by Jesuit Father Alfred Delp, as one of his Advent and Christmas meditations, in 1944.

He poignantly calls for real prophets like John for every age:

…where are the voices that should ring out in protest and accusation? There should never be any lack of prophets like John the Baptist in the kaleidoscope of life at any period; brave [people] inspired by the dynamic compulsion of the mission to which they are dedicated, true witnesses following the lead of their hearts and endowed with clear vision and unerring judgment.… Such [people] proclaim the message of healing and salvation. They warn [people] of [their] chance, because they already feel the ground heaving beneath their feet, feel the beams cracking and the great mountains shuddering inwardly and the stars swinging in space. They cry out to [people], urging [them] to save [themselves] by a change of heart before the coming of the catastrophes threatening to overwhelm [them].

In the midst of crisis we need such people who quietly are lights to the nations, proclaiming a message of conversion and love, as did St. John.

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