John the Baptist was born about three months before his cousin, Jesus. While his story is mixed in with the Christmas readings there are times when looking at his own birth should be considered. At that time, it was extraordinary.
An Unusual Meeting: Elizabeth, wife of the priest Zachariah, was six months pregnant. This doesn’t sound strange until you mention that she was decidedly past menopause. She had been childless and ashamed of that fact. It was a reasonable feeling; people believed that a childless woman was being punished by God.
She stepped outside and saw her niece toiling up the road to her home. She had no way of knowing the younger woman was coming…the postal system wasn’t exactly in working order at that point in time. She knew the young woman had recently married. That sort of news traveled fast within the family. Then she felt it. Her child leapt inside her womb and she could feel his joy. Her unborn son knew that Mary was pregnant with the Messiah.
The Gift of the Holy Spirit: Some of us may take this gift for granted. We’ve had it for so long that the nuances aren’t seen. Only the “big works” are signs to some. In the time before Christ’s death and resurrection, only a few people ever had that gift and they were often set apart. In fact, most of them were also set upon by others who envied or were worried by this gift. John the Baptist had it before he was born and Elizabeth shared the experience with him.
Mary’s Psalm: “Blessed am I among women,” she said. All nations will one day call her blessed. She wasn’t a wealthy woman. When she said that God turned the rich “empty away” I think perhaps she might be recalling that those in the higher ranks felt they were more likely to bear this child. He would have been carefully kept and carefully “trained.” Instead, He was born to a not so wealthy, hardly distinguished woman of an ancient family. Jesus truly is a descendent of David…through Mary.
We can all Leap: How would it feel to get back in touch with the Holy Spirit living in our hearts and souls? How would it feel to have the guilt load removed from our backs again? It would be like a limb after a cast has been removed. It feels so light and free. It’s what we should feel if we stay in touch with God through the Holy Spirit. We may not physically leap but our hearts would.
I believe that the Holy Spirit is with us. We have to choose to accept Him. We have to choose to listen to Him. We have to choose to act on our faith. That choice will cause us to leap just as John did in his mother’s womb.