The Catholic Church celebrates only three birthdays: Jesus on December 24, Mary on September 8, and John the Baptist on June 24.
Christmas is celebrated around the time of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. In the darkness, the light of the newborn babe shines, promising light and life.
The nativity of St. John is near the summer solstice, the longest day in the northern hemisphere. In some places in the world it is celebrated with vigils and a night celebration around a fire.
Interestingly, from this day on the days get shorter. The light decreases.
One of the most striking aspects of St. John the Baptist is his identity as a precursor, the one who comes before the Messiah. As John said, “ He must increase and I must decrease.” (John 3: 30)
As the length of the days decreases, we celebrate the one who saw his role as decreasing.
Decreasing so that someone else can have the spotlight is not easy. It demands a discipline of humility and a willingness to let others shine.
John had his priorities right – letting the Messiah shine.
A good message for people like me.