Have you ever had the experience of finally getting something that should have been obvious? I’d be willing to bet we all have. Sometimes it comes in the form of asking people if they have seen our pencil or hat and then realizing it is either in our hand or on our head.
This happens all the time to me when reading. Often lines that in the first read through were ‘throw away lines’ that seemed of little importance, on the second read, become filled with meaning.
I had this ‘how did you not see this before’ moment happen to me just the other day!
I was reading the account of St. John the Forerunner (Baptist) and realized something I hadn’t realized before. It was always clear that he was to prepare the way for the Lord and to announce the coming of the Lord. That much has always been clear to me. Out of nowhere I finally realized that this began while John was still in the womb.
We read that “he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” (Luke 1:15) We also read that his mother, Elizabeth “was filled with the Holy Spirit
And she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:41-45)
What happened right before Elizabeth was filled the Holy Spirit and proclaimed who the child was in Mary’s womb?
John leaped in her womb!
All of this leads to the very obvious fact that was before me all along that I had never recognized. John’s first act of preparing the way for the Lord was to leap in his mothers’ womb and proclaim, in his joy, that Mary indeed held in her womb Him who cannot be contained.
When I realized this, I felt silly for not recognizing it before. I also was filled with amazement that, while still in the womb, John was beginning to fulfill his mission. It is not just from the mouth of babes that we learn but from the joyful leaps of one still in the womb!
“The child of Elizabeth, of course under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, felt the nearness of another Child, for Whose coming into the world he would have to prepare mankind, and moved in an extraordinary way inside Elizabeth’s womb. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, the joy of the child in the womb passed to the mother, who immediately, with foresight given her by grace, recognized Mary’s joyful news even before she said anything, and she praised her cousin as the Mother of God with the words of the archangel Gabriel.”
-Archbishop Averky (Taushev)
At seeing this for the first time deeply, that John began his work in the womb, through the Holy Spirit, I wasn’t concerned with any ‘practical’ application. It had a more immediate and profound impact. It filled me with a wonder. It stirred up feelings of love for our Lord, for the Theotokos, for Elizabeth, John, for men, women, mothers, children, those in the womb, those outside of the womb, indeed for everyone. This little insight, as obvious as it is, in its beauty transformed something in me.
My heart leaped for joy with John!
I praised God with Elizabeth and the Theotokos!
God is with us!
Pray for me.
I’ll pray for you.