By Sarah Damm


Friday is the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist. As I reflect on John’s life, four themes stand out.

Leap for joy. When Mary went to visit Elizabeth, John “leaped for joy” in her womb at the sound of Mary’s greeting (Luke 1:44). From before his birth, John joyfully recognized God’s plan as well as his unique purpose.

Today, reflect on what God is doing in your life. Ask God for a spirit of joy to live out your unique role in God’s plan.

Live your baptism. John baptized the people, calling them to repent and live anew. Pope Francis said, “to know the date of our Baptism is to know a blessed day. The danger of not knowing is that we can lose awareness of what the Lord has done in us, the memory of the gift we have received.”

Today, look up the Baptism dates for you and your children. Mark them on your calendar and celebrate them. For those of us who are not parents, do the same for godchildren, nieces, nephews, and other special children in your life.

Prepare the way. John the Baptist prepared the people with a message of repentance in order to receive Jesus as the Messiah. Because this is usually an Advent theme, I recall all of the preparations we make for the birth of Christ at Christmas. We prepare our hearts with prayer; our homes with decorations; and our family with new clothes and special gifts. How can we prepare for the Lord throughout the year?

Today, consider how to live a sense of preparation, no matter what season we are in. Can I add prayer to my day, another Mass to my week? Can I celebrate my Catholic faith in how I decorate my home? Can I find ways to share my faith with my loved ones through books or CDs, or by inviting them to a Bible study or book club?

Decrease, that He may increase. John the Baptist never wanted to be in the limelight. That spot was reserved for “one who is more powerful” (Matthew 3:11). John’s humility leads me to question my actions. How often do I want to do things my way? Do I set my own agenda without consulting God’s plan?

Today, pray about how we act in our families, workplaces, and volunteer opportunities. How can I be more humble in my heart and in my actions? How can I make my marriage less about me and more about my husband and our relationship together? How can I make my mothering less about my comfort and more about my children’s peace and joy? How can I make my work less about my recognition and more about doing my best for God’s glory?

St. John the Baptist, pray for us!