The Nativity of St. John the Baptist
In both our Gospel readings, we hear excerpts from Luke's infancy narrative (Luke 1:1-80) describing the events surrounding John's birth, interwoven into the story of Jesus' birth. In Saturday's Gospel reading (Luke 1:5-17), we hear of an elderly priestly couple (Zechariah and Elizabeth) who had no children for she was barren. One day, while in the temple sanctuary offering sacrifice, the Angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah,
"Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. John will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn their hearts toward their children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord."
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, "No. He will be called John." But they answered her, "There is no one among your relatives who has this name." So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name," and all were amazed.
In Sunday's Epistle reading (Acts 13:22-26), St. Luke describes how John herladed the coming of Jesus, proclaiming a baptism of repentance.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, 'What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.'
Our readings this weekend make mention of three great prophets who preceded John - Jeremiah, Isaac and Elijah. All four were great prophets and in their own right, preparing the way for the Lord and calling people back to God and to repentance. But it didn't end with John, or even the ultimate prophet, Jesus. It continues with us. By virtue of our Baptism in the Lord, we share in Christ's ministry of priest, prophet and king. It is now up to us to herald the coming of Jesus into our world, into the lives and hearts of all we meet, especially those closest to us..
- Click HERE to read and reflect on the readings for the Vigil Mass, Saturday, June 23
- Click HERE to read and reflect on the readings for the Mass during the day, Sunday, June 24
- Click HERE to read and learn more about the distinct portraits of John the Baptist in all four Gospels.