From his miraculous conception to the elderly Elizabeth, John the Baptist was touched by the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb when the pregnant Virgin came to assist in his birth.  While scripture is silent, John may also have encountered Jesus during their boyhood days during the thrice-annual feast days when Jews gathered in Jerusalem.

John the Baptist was the predicted forerunner of Christ who prepared the world for the coming of Christ’s kingdom. A fiery prophet who lived an austere and rugged exodus in the wilderness like Elijah, John preached the need to repent from sins, bear good fruit and to receive the baptism of water for repentance. John excoriates the Pharisees and Sadducees for their presumptuous Judaism and warns them to prove their repentance by bearing good fruit or be doomed.

Turning to the Messiah, John humbly acknowledges Christ’s greatness and his own unworthiness. John foresees that Christ will baptize “with the Holy Spirit and fire”, a remarkable reference to Pentecost.  John also describes in blunt terms Christ’s coming judgment in which men of humble repentance and faith (wheat) will be saved and the unrepentant and unfruitful (the chaff) will be burned in unquenchable fire.”

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ’s coming is prophesied by Isaiah 700 years earlier and recognized and announced by John the Baptist. Son of Man, Christ is the perfection of manhood and awes the fierce and manly John. Divine Judge, Christ has domain over all mankind with the power to welcome souls to Heaven and cast souls into Hell.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) During Advent, most are drawn to the “little baby Jesus”, “tender and mild”, “sleeping in heavenly peace.” Reflect on John the Baptist’s fearsome  depiction of Christ who has a “winnowing fork” and will burn the chaff “with unquenchable fire.”

2) Christ is falsely presented in images as doe-eyed, feminine, weak and softish and His tough words and deeds are often avoided. Realize that John the Baptist (manly, survivalist, powerful, courageous, zealous, magnetic) would never have followed this false Jesus.  During Advent, commit to a habit of reading the Gospels with the goal of coming to better know the True Christ.

3) Like the presumptuous Pharisees and Sadducees took Judaism for granted, many Catholic men falsely presume that being “Catholic” is sufficient; it is not…a man must live a vibrant Catholic faith.  During Advent, reflect on John the Baptist’s dire warnings and pray that Christ help you to become the Catholic man He calls you to be.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Trinity

Virtue of the Day – Charity

Corporal Work of Mercy – To feed the hungry

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To admonish the sinner