A three-year-old was helping his mother unpack their nativity set. He announced each piece as he removed its tissue paper wrappings. “Here’s the donkey!” he said. “Here’s a king and a camel!” When he finally got to the tiny infant lying in a manger he proclaimed, “Here’s Baby Jesus in his car seat!”

Well, it wasn’t a car seat, but that would be an easy mistake to make, wouldn’t it? We all love nativity scenes. Baby Jesus in the manger . . . Mary and Joseph hovering reverently over the Holy Child . . . shepherds, wise men, assorted cattle, sheep, and camels . . . and, of course, a donkey. But, as someone has noted, there is always one person missing from these nativity scenes. Have you ever seen John the Baptist in any of the nativity scenes?

Louder than any Santa says, ‘Ho, ho, ho,’ you would hear the automated voice of John the Baptist screaming, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is near.’ Has anyone noticed a figure like that in any of the nativity scenes that are traditional to our celebration of Christmas?”

Well, no. At least, I’ve never seen a nativity scene featuring John the Baptist. Yet, on the second Sunday of Advent, we always encounter this strange, lonely figure sounding his message out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord.”

  • Submitted by Fr. Joseph Dovari