So often today I think many Christians feel they are the lone voice crying out in the wilderness. When all our family members and friends have fallen away from their faith it can be very isolating experience when you may be the only member of your family practicing the faith.
For John the Baptist he was a lone voice crying out in the wilderness for the Jewish people to repent and turn away from sin.
Most saints days are celebrated on the anniversary of their death but John has two feast days, this one celebrating his birth and another on the 29th of August in honour of his death. Our Lady is the only other person to have had this accolade bestowed upon her.
John was born under amazing circumstances, to elderly parents. We are told in the account of St Luke that the moment Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting the child in Elizabeth “leapt in her womb” – a proverbial cartwheel that I’m sure many pregnant Mamas can resonate with. Elizabeth, who in that moment was being filled with the Holy Spirit, her child within was not left out of the joy she felt knowing they were in the presence of their Lord.
John was a unique individual, a man who definitely stood apart from the crowd. He was a country lad from the wilderness who lived and grew up in the desert regions of Judea. At a guess I’d say he was a bit of a loner. He had been born into a priestly family but he took neither his father’s name or his profession. He performed no great miracles and died at the hands of a malevolent woman. His dress code was off the chart, and his diet was restrictive to say the least.
However much John’s fashion statement may have left much to be desired, and however much his upbringing may have not prepared him for public speaking, he sure knew how to pull a crowd. Large numbers came to him to be baptized. Some I’m sure out of curiosity, others sizing up their competition and still others who had true repentance on their hearts.
John was not one to mince his words. He spoke out strongly against the Sadducees and Pharisees when they came to him and he definitely told Herod straight down the line that what he was doing with Herodias, his brother’s wife, was definitely not of God.
John’s ministry had grown to quite a following and many people were beginning to think that John may have been the long awaited Messiah. In fact the Jews sent Priests and Levites out to ask him “who are you?” John made it quite clear “I am not the Christ.” John knew his place, he was the warm up act for the real deal. When Jesus showed up on the banks of the river Jordan that day John may have had some inkling as to who he was, but if he wasn’t fully sure it was made quite clear when Jesus came up out of the waters and the heavens opened and something like a dove descended on Jesus and a voice proclaimed “This is my Son, the beloved; my favour rests on him”. Now on hearing that, you would be left under no illusion. The next day John immediately began to point his disciples towards Jesus.
There are many ways to celebrate this feast day. In some countries they light bonfires and have fireworks. The children are encouraged to jump over the fires while firecrackers go off. Now call me a spoilsport but this just does not sit comfortably with me. I’m already on first name terms with the staff at A and E as I’ve been in there so often with a child, so the idea that I would have to explain to them that I had encouraged my children to jump over a bonfire while their father and I had let off fireworks in the vicinity just somehow would not resonate with me. I think as fun as this sounds I shall just switch on my oven and bake a round of honey cup cakes for tea.
Now I know in Japan sugared covered locusts are a real treat, but call me faint-hearted – I don’t think I could bring my self to eat them. So if you are that way inclined please feel free to decorate your cakes with fresh locusts. I on the other-hand will be breaking up some crunchies to put on the top of mine to give that satisfying crunch and the children will have to forego their protein snack! I think you can buy chocolate covered locusts on Amazon, so once again feel free but please don’t invite me to tea!
4oz/110g Butter softened
4oz/110g Self-Raising Flour
1 Tablespoon of warmed honey
2 Crunchies broken into pieces
4oz/110g Butter softened
4pz/110g Icing Sugar
Mix butter, sugar, honey and eggs into a fluffy batter. Divide mixture amongst twelve paper cupcake cases and bake in the oven at 180 degrees for approx ten to fifteen minutes or until the cakes are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
When cool make the butter icing by beating the butter and icing sugar together. Spread or pipe onto the cakes and and then cover in crunchies – the chocolate or locust kind!
Tags: St John the Baptist