The feast of the birthday of John the Baptist is a Solemnity in the church calendar. One of the things that a solemnity has is "First Vespers" or an evening prayer service on the eve of the feast.
The hymn for this service on today's feast is beautiful, and sums up John the Baptist very well.
The first verse tells us that John was the greatest of the prophets to foretell the coming of Jesus.
In the second verse we are told, "John searched in solitude for Christ, and knew him when he came."
There is something deep and beautiful in this line; the image of a prophet wandering around looking for Jesus and knowing him when he found him.
We have the same experience in our life; we spend years seeking joy in many things and then when we finally find the truth we know it!
The third verse tells us that John was derided and denied. We all know what it is to be mocked by our friends because we start to seek God. Once you begin the Christian life you soon lose friends.
But the hymn tells us that John is victorious: he finds Jesus and through him the Trinity. And we even get a great description of the Trinity:
"The light of unknown ways,
The hope of all who search for you,
Whose love fills all our days."
John the Baptist brings the Old Testament to an end. He is the bridge between the old and the knew. Like all the prophets of the OT he was searching for Jesus. John was the one who found him!