Having a close cousin can be like having a “bonus” brother or sister. That’s especially true if you were born in the same year, like Irish twins, and went through school together and shared activities and common interests. Jesus and John the Baptist were related. Their mothers were relatives. Jesus and John might have been cousins. They were born six months apart and their lives were connected from the moment of their conception.
When Mary learned she would be the mother of God’s Son most people around her did not understand. So she went to a safe place, to visit Elizabeth, whom she knew would understand and accept her. In the Visitation the unborn John moved inside Elizabeth. He acknowledged who Jesus was, announced this news to his mother and gave reassurance and comfort to Mary. As an adult, Jesus accepted baptism from John and John prepared others to hear Jesus’ preaching.
The news of John’s murder at the hands of a tyrant must have been devastating. Jesus withdrew but the crowds followed. Jesus responded, not with selfish complaints, but with compassion. He provided for the crowds and made sure they were nourished in body and spirit. There are people in our lives who inspire and teach us like this. They encourage us to seek the true bread from God. They show us that nothing can separate us from Him. The bonds of faith and love they share with us are never destroyed or broken but always help us to do what is right and good.