Whenever I propose an idea for a new book to Loyola Press, one of the questions that I am asked by our marketing people is, “How is this different from anything else that’s on the market?” The better job I do of differentiating my work from anything else available, the better chance the book has of being successful.
Is it possible that John the Baptist had a degree in marketing?
When you consider his message, his lifestyle, and his appearance, he certainly knew how to set himself apart!
Here’s an idea if you are doing a lesson on Advent and want to consider John the Baptist:
- Bring in some sales catalogs or brochures (available in abundance during this Christmas shopping season) and distribute them randomly to the kids.
- Invite the young people to analyze them. Invite them to determine which do the best job of grabbing their attention and why.
- Have the kids report their findings to the group.
- As an option, show this YouTube video about how ads must grab attention.
- Emphasize how the key to good advertising (marketing) is to grab attention by setting yourself/your product apart from others.
- Tell the kids that today they will be learning about someone who knew how to grab people’s attention and how to set himself apart from others: John the Baptist.
- Invite a volunteer to read Mark 1:1–8.
- Ask: What about John the Baptist might have caught people’s attention? (He wore clothing made of camel’s hair; he ate locusts and wild honey.) What did John the Baptist want people to do? (repent from sin; be baptized as a sign of repentance)
- Say: John the Baptist’s appearance and his message of repentance caught people’s attention. Then he told them the most important thing. What did he say? (Another mightier than I will come after me; he will baptize with the Holy Spirit.) We know that he was talking about Jesus.
- Say: During Advent, we affirm John’s message by preparing the way of the Lord in our own lives. We seek forgiveness for our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and look for ways in which we can be better followers of Jesus. In our words and actions, we hope to be like John the Baptist in leading others to Jesus. In what ways can we “prepare the way of the Lord” in the world today? (Accept all reasonable answers, such as making good choices, working for peace and justice, and being prepared to talk about our faith.)
This is not an entire lesson, of course, but just an idea for making a connection between John the Baptist and the hype we see around us during the Christmas shopping season.
By the way, you can find a whole bevy of ideas like this for breaking open the Word with children in the Sunday Connection on the Loyola Press website. I personally wrote most of the grade 7 & 8 material. This resource can be helpful to you in including some preparation for the upcoming Sunday Scripture readings in your weekly catechetical sessions. There is also a link for family ideas.
John the Baptist is featured in the Gospel readings for the Second and Third Sundays of Advent. See the Arts & Faith: Advent videos for these Sundays.