Isaiah 40:3

Brothers and Sisters,

Normally, I emphasize the fact that there are only 10,000 or so canonized saints.  For this article, I want to reverse that emphasis, if you will indulge me.

Of the thousands of saints, how many do you know?  Sure, any one of us could give a long list of stereotypic Christian names and say that these are all saints – fair enough, but how many of the saints do you actually know something about?  How many saints could you tell the story of how or why that person has been canonized?

For example, we all could, surely, list off Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph, since they are such prominent figures in the four Gospels, and – speaking of the Gospels – Saint Matthew, Saint Mark, Saint Luke, Saint John, wrote the Gospels so they are easy to name as well.  Maybe lots of us could name our favorite patron saint or confirmation saint.  Again, it is easy to throw out a name and say that such a person is a saint.  Why, though, why a saint?

This is all well and good but merely perfunctory.  What did Saint Mark do for a living?  Where did Saint Luke end up at the end of his life?  What did Saint Matthew do besides write a Gospel?  What caused the death of Saint John?  Why is any given saint the patron saint for this thing or that?  With more than 10,000 saints, I’m sure you can imagine that there are so many heroic and exciting stories that are just unknown to most Christians.

Saint John the Baptist, though well known enough, is one of those underappreciated saints.  While he is not the very first Christian, he is close.  Blessed Mother gets the honor of being the first Christian – the first to believe that God became human, since Saint Gabriel spoke to her.  Then, likely, Saint Joseph may have been the second Christian.  It was then that the Word went out to Saint Elizabeth, Saint Zechariah, and even to Saint John the Baptist while still growing inside of his mother (“the instant the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy” -Luke 2:44).

So, while not the very first Christian, he is close.  He does get the “last place” title for something:  the last and greatest prophet.  One of the duties of the prophets was to encourage all to look forward to the coming of the Messiah.  Saint John the Baptist is the last and greatest prophet because he actually pointed out the arrival of Christ.  Just like this saint, brothers and sisters, it is our job to point out the Messiah.  Teach your children and friends that He is really present on the Altar at Mass and in the Tabernacle always.  Remind your families that Christ is present to us always wheresoever we go and ought to thus act in a way that would make Him proud of us.  With the intercessory help of Saint John the Baptist, let’s be sure to point out Christ – that He is still present to us now – to all of our family members, neighbors, and friends.

God be near,

Father Jeremy