December 23. John the Baptist’s family. Luke 1 Matt 14. John was another miracle child born to a mother in her old age, Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin. His special role was forerunner of the Messiah. When his father Zechariah heard that his wife Elizabeth was pregnant he doubted God at first and was struck dumb. Elizabeth was blessed with the first knowledge of Mary’s pregnancy. Her greeting to Mary was, “Hail Mary full of grace,” and Mary’s response was the Magnificat, the prayer of praise and righteousness, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour.” In adulthood John lived as a prophet in the desert, a wild, enigmatic figure, preaching repentance and baptising people, totally committed to his mission of justice and integrity. He was imprisoned by king Herod because of his criticism of Herod’s unlawful marriage. Herod’s wife and stepdaughter then manipulated the king into ordering that John should be beheaded.

Pope Francis: Friends and other families are part of the larger family who support one another in their difficulties, social commitments and faith. AL 196. Seeking and pursuing the good of others and of the entire human family also implies helping individuals and societies to mature in the moral values that foster integral human development, a striving for excellence and what is best for others’ growth in maturity and health, the cultivation of values and not simply material wellbeing. FT 112. Reflect and share. The families of John the Baptist and Jesus shared in the joy, the mission and the pain. Do we value our wider family relationships? Think of them and share some memories across the generations too. May we show our love and support and may they not just be people we meet at funerals or in times of difficulty.