I often think about how strange it must have been to be St. John the Baptist. On the one hand, he had a very clear calling and goal toward which his life was ordered; he knew from an early age that he was called to radical sacrifice, calling people to repentance, and “making straight the way of the Lord”. On the other, the God to whom he was calling the people back, and the Lord whose path he was making straight, was his younger cousin, someone he’d presumably seen over the years at family gatherings and celebrations. In all, quite a bizarre life to live, but I find this dichotomy helpful in meditating on Jesus’ humanity and the “Hidden Years” before his ministry. Jesus was, at one point, a teenaged boy, with teenage friends and cousins, most likely playing some first-century equivalent of pickup basketball and going to birthday parties, and there’s a real chance St. John was there for some of that.