I knew any of those meditations/devotions would strengthen my faith, hope and love for our Lord, preparing myself for the day in which he was born. However, as I began thinking and praying for this particular “movement” in my faith, the name John the Baptist rang in my head. As I started thinking about him more and more, I realized something I really never thought about before. This man was crazy. This guy was not someone I would ever invite to a nice dinner to or a gathering with friends. He wore a hair-like coat that was obviously uncomfortably itchy. He ate grasshoppers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And he probably had a longer beard than Santa. I’m sure being out in the heat did not make him smell very good either. As I continued to reflect on John, I realized something else. The word “crazy,” (as I was describing him in my thoughts), isn't really accurate. In-and-of-itself, is doesn't truly capture the entirety of who John the Baptist was. What really must follow that word “crazy” are the words, “in love”.
John the Baptist was “crazy in love” with our God. He was not just someone who was a “nice pious individual.” He was someone who lived every moment of his life for his faith. And he did so in a revolutionary way. This man, John the Baptist, laid the groundwork for all Christians to “not be afraid” in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And as I continued to think, I realized that it really was this man who set the precedent that gave me permission to walk the country six months ago with a friend with the intention of raising this awareness on this life our God is calling us to live. At this moment, I knew our Lord was directing my vision to John the Baptist.
Advent is a time of preparation. In my last article I wrote about this preparation that we are called to as Christians, to prepare our hearts for the birth of our God made man. But I believe John teaches us something else. Not only are we as Christians called to prepare our own hearts for His arrival, we are also called to prepare the hearts of others.
This is when I know it can get tricky. We live in different “worlds” than the time of John. People would look at John in a completely different way had he been born today. But reflecting on his life, we can all benefit from this man's personality, thoughts, and overall way of living.
Are we called to wear hair-like coats around everywhere we go? Maybe not. Sure, our Lord does call us to penance, and we know this is different for everyone. But by the very life of John, we are taught that our God is not going to settle for ignorance. Our God does not accept “fear” as an excuse for not living, breathing, and proclaiming the Gospel. This man they called The Baptist gives witness to this in a heroic way.
So often, we as Christians are fearful that we are going to be looked at as another “crazy Jesus follower” if we live in the ways of our God. Often times we may hold back from proclaiming this truth of the Gospel for fear that we may not be liked or accepted. I am sure all of us can relate in some way. But it was John who exemplified what it means to live our lives ‘crazy in love’ with our God. And even though this love is something that is not necessarily “normal” by the world’s standards, it is holy and true by the standards of faith.
This Advent let us all look to John the Baptist, who, without fear, exemplifies what it means to prepare our hearts in the truest of ways. It is a way that to the world may be “crazy” and out of the norm, but through the eyes of faith, it prepares all of us to aspire to a new way of life, a life where we live “crazy in love” with our God.
Jon Leonetti is the author of two books entitled - Mission of the Family and Your God Is Too Boring. He currently travels the country giving keynote presentations and parish missions. Learn more by visiting jonleonetti.com
The Live Greater Foundation exists to encourage ordinary people to live in extraordinary ways. Learn more about their work at livegreaterfoundation.org.
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.