What John the Baptist can Teach Catholic Singles
Most of us are probably familiar with Saint John the Baptist as the precursor of Christ who foretold his coming and then baptized him in the Jordan.
We hear John the Baptist mentioned in the Gospel readings at Sunday Mass multiple times each year. But we might not always give much thought to the fact that he’s a saint who can intercede for us and who was killed largely because of his defense of marriage.
The important origin of John the Baptist
Scripture tells us that John the Baptist’s beginning was one that illustrates the importance of trusting God. John’s parents were Elizabeth and Zachariah. The two of them were married for many years, but remained childless.
John and Elizabeth greatly desired to have a child together. But as the years passed, they eventually reached the age where it would be impossible (naturally speaking) to conceive.
Then the Angel Gabriel came to Elizabeth and told her that she would conceive son. Despite the angelic messenger, Zechariah had trouble believing that God would really grant them the desires of their hearts. After all, it since it seemed like such an impossible feat.
Even though it seemed impossible, God gave them a child. This child was John, the first person to recognize the presence of Christ when he leapt in Elizabeth’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice.
A life of preparation for Christ
As Catholic in a season of singleness, we can also look to John the Baptist’s life as an example. He shows us how to prepare our lives and our hearts to follow Christ faithfully.
The Church tells us that his mission on earth was to prepare the way for Christ’s coming. His name, John, actually means “Gift of God.” This tells us that God sent him as a gift to us, to help humanity reach a disposition that would be ready for Christ.
We don’t have a ton of information about John the Baptist’s whole life. But we do know that he spent time living in the desert, eating locusts and honey.
He did not spend time seeking worldly fame or fortune. Instead, he fasted, preached, and prepared for the coming of Christ.
When Christ came, John was ready. With complete humility, he told those who were following him that they should now follow Christ instead.
John the Baptist’s defense of marriage
The Collect is one of the beginning prayers of the Mass. On the feast of the Passion of John the Baptist, the Collect reads, “O God, who willed that Saint John the Baptist should go ahead of your Son both in his birth and in his death, grant that, as he died a Martyr for truth and justice, we, too, may fight hard for the confession of what you teach.”
What exactly were the “truth and justice” John went to the grave for?
Scripture tells us that John had a confrontation with Herod and Herod’s wife Herodias. “John had said to him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her,'” Matthew 14:4 reads.
This was because Herodias was lawfully the wife of Herod’s brother Philip, not Herod’s own lawful wife. Herod and Herodias were committing adultery. John’s confrontation of Herod over this matter was a courageous, holy defense of marriage.
We would do well to imitate him in our own day and age, where the sanctity of marriage is attacked in so many ways.
But, as is often the case when one speaks up in defense of truth and justice, John the Baptist suffered and died for his beliefs.
Herodias was greatly offended at John’s words. He was a threat to her, since he was proclaiming that she had no right to her current status as queen married to King Herod.
Herod, however, had a certain respect for John the Baptist. Some Scripture scholars go so far as to say that Herod appreciated John’s counsel. But nevertheless, Herod put John in prison.
But John did not waver in his defense of the truth, so Herodias felt the need to get rid of him.
It was ultimately because of John the Baptist’s uncompromising defense of marriage that he was killed.
As we seek to promote the sanctity of marriage in our world today, and as we seek to build holy marriages and families for ourselves, let’s turn to John the Baptist for intercession and for inspiration.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us!
Adrienne Thorne is a Catholic wife, mother, screenwriter, and blogger, as well as author of the Catholic YA romance novel SYDNEY AND CALVIN HAVE A BABY. She blogs about TV and Movies from Catholic perspective at Thorne in the Flesh: A Faithful Catholic's Guide to Netflix, Hulu, and More.