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As the Church celebrates the birth of St. John the Baptist, I start thinking about the relationship of John to his cousin, Jesus. I find it hard to talk much about it as there are few mentions in the Scriptures but this morning I decided to use what I have read about them together and go from there.

It doesn’t seem that they were close in childhood, unless Elizabeth and Mary wrote a lot of letters describing their “boys” to one another and sharing them with the kids. It’s so much easier for us in the age of technology. We can watch children grow up in pictures and videos and as soon as they can write, they can enjoy a relationship – if they have the tools. I wonder what the mothers of these two shared, if anything. And what, as they grew, were the stories about them in their neighborhoods?

John certainly knew his place in adulthood. “A voice crying in the desert” is how he described his role and he never seemed to mind that Jesus was “the chosen one” and he the “sidekick,” the associate, the one to do the bidding of God in Jesus. He went to prison because of Jesus. He was beheaded for loving him. It doesn’t seem that they had much time together but when they met it seemed like they knew each other immediately on a deep level. And I’m so glad to know that John had the privilege of baptizing Jesus. What an honor and a humbling event, for sure!

All that makes me think of a David Haas song that speaks of the relationship we might have with Jesus. It’s the words and the music of the refrain that cause a stirring in my heart. And when I think of John the Baptist I can imagine that if he never even met Jesus (although how wonderful for both of them that he did!) he would have sung this refrain.

Without seeing you, we love you. Without touching you, we embrace. Without knowing you, we follow. Without seeing you, we believe.