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Today we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist and listen to Luke’s account of his nativity. John’s story is one of sacrifice and humility. His parents know there will be something very special about this child. The circumstances surrounding his birth already have people amazed. Jewish historians account that John was a preacher around the time of Pontius Pilate who went around calling people to renewal! He spent a lot of time in the wilderness, eating wild things and wearing sackcloth. He must have been a very interesting and attractive figure as we are told in the gospels that people flocked to the River Jordan to be baptised by him; a sign of their repentance or renewal of relationship with God. John gathered so many followers around him that he was considered a threat to Herod Antipas who feared he might begin a rebellion. John was a preacher, a prophet, a signpost pointing people in the right direction: towards Jesus of Nazareth.
We can pray today for all those people who acted as signposts in our lives and brought us closer to God in some way, those who guided us and pointed us in the right direction when we needed it. We too are also called to be signposts for others.
‘Lord, we thank you for people who guided us, but did not try to possess us: parents, teachers, spiritual guides, friends. For a time we stood with them. Very simply, like John the Baptist, they said to us, “Look, there is the one you should follow,” and hearing this we followed that person.’
Michel de Verteuil