Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist
Readings: 1st: Is: 49:1-6; Ps 138; 2nd: Acts 13: 22-26; Gos: Lk 1: 57-66.80
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today, the twelfth Sunday of ordinary time, the church celebrates the nativity of a great prophets, John the Baptist. He is popularly known as the forerunner of Christ. His birth marked the end of an old prophetic era, as well as the beginning of a new one. He was the link between the Old and the New Testament. So, he is “the Bridge.”
In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah recounts his call to the prophetic ministry. He announced: “The Lord called me before I was born.” He freely and obidiently responded to this call. He carried it out in spite of all odds against him.
One remarkable point that Isaiah highlighted in the account of his call and mission is that God equips and protects those he called until they have accomplished his mission. This is the account of Isaiah: “He made my mouth a sharp sword and hid me into a sharpened arrow and concealed me in his quiver.”
We see this in the lives of all the true prophets. Nothing could stop them until they have fulfilled the will of God. As a great prophet, he set the pace for his successors including John the Baptist whose birthday we celebrate today.
The second reading reminds us of the important role that John played in the history of our salvation. He was not the messiah but, he was the one specially chosen by God to be the herald of the Messiah. He prepared the way for his coming.
Luke highlighted a very important virtue displayed by John the Baptist at the beginning of his ministry. This was his humility. He announced before hand: “I am not the one you imagine me to be. That one is coming after me and I am not fit to untie his sandal.” He knew what he was called to do and he simply did it. He was truthful about his mission.
Though, he was held in a very high esteem by his disciples, he humbled himself as a servant. He knew his place and mission right from his mother’s womb. During his divine encounter with Christ in the Mary’s womb, he humbly adored Him by leaping for Joy (Lk 1:41).
John the Baptist knew he was only a servant and a messenger sent to prepare the way. So, his message was simple but powerful. When Christ eventually came, he humbly presented him to his disciples and the world: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn 1: 19). He has completed his mission. So, he was not bothered when his disciples abandoned him to follow the messiah. He lived what he preached and died for it.
Today’s Gospel recounts the mystery of the naming of this great prophet. God and his parents agreed that his name is John. According to his relatives this name was out of tradition: “No one in your family has that name.” This is the beginning of the sign that something different was about to happen. The instant healing of his father’s dumbness proved this. A prophet like no other with a rare name and a special mission has been born. The Man who announced the good news of repentance and salvation to the world was born.
John means “Yahweh is gracious.” Of course, he was a gift not only his parents considered to be barren for a long time, but to the entire world that he came to announce the imminence of the messiah. Like his predecessor Isaiah, the hand of the Lord was upon him and his mision was a success.
Peace be with you!