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Friends, today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. From time immemorial, God has sent messengers, prophets, and spokespersons. Think of that whole line of prophets and the patriarchs of Israel.

John the Baptist sums up all of these figures. In the Gospel of John, the Baptist identifies himself as “the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’” The point John makes is that Jesus is not just one more biblical figure. He’s something altogether different—not just a speaker of the Word but the Word himself.

We are destined for union with the Word of God, but we don’t get it. Why do we run after everything but Christ? Because there’s something seriously off-kilter in us. But here’s the good news from John’s Gospel: “To those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God.”

We can’t grasp this on our own. God must lift us up. The Word of God, with God from the beginning, does not remain in splendid isolation. It comes down, joins us, and lifts us up. That is the essence of the Christian message.