Why did John the Baptist need to come as the Forerunner to Christ?
The fourth week of the Season of the Glorious Birth of Our Lord is the birth of John the Baptist.
Who is John the Baptist and why is his role so essential in this season?
John is referred to as the forerunner, a messenger of God and the last Prophet.
All the previous prophets in some way revealed God’s plan. John is the last prophet because he was the one that would finally reveal Jesus’ true identity. As we saw at the Visitation last week, he revealed Christ’s identity while he was still in his mother’s womb.
The birth of John the Baptist itself was prophesised. John’s ministry fulfilled a prophecy of the Old Testament. In Isaiah 40 it was prophesised that someone would prepare the way for the Lord.
Our liturgy also highlights the role of John.
“You will go prepare the way before the Lord,
who will come to save the world.” Entrance Hymn
John is preparing the way for Jesus, he asks the people to repent their sins and baptises them in the river Jordon.
But why did Jesus need a forerunner? Mary I. Coloe, in her book ‘Dwelling in the Household of God,’ explains that in the Jewish wedding tradition, a friend or witness goes to ‘prepare the way’ for the groom and to announce his coming to the bridal household so they are on notice and can prepare themselves for the groom’s coming.
Similarly, John was sent as friend and witness to arrange things before Jesus’ arrival. The announcement is not for the groom’s sake, rather it for the household’s sake. The Forerunner was sent so that the community, the household of God, could prepare themselves for Christ’s coming.
In the same way, John is calling us, the Church, to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ the “beloved Son!” (Matthew 3:17).
So in the lead up to Christmas what are you doing to prepare yourself and your family for Christ’s coming? Over the next few weeks you may consider fasting, focusing on your prayer life, forgiving people who have hurt you, seeking forgiveness from those you have hurt, going to Mass more regularly, praying the rosary as a family, giving to the poor and doing works of mercy.
By Christina Maksisi