Homily (Reflection) for the Solemnity of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist (24th June, 2018) on the Gospel
Is 49:1-6;Ps 138:1-3.13-15. (R. v. 14);
Topic: Where we often fail.
We celebrate today the birth of Saint John the Baptist (the voice) that cried in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’ cf. Jn 1:23. The gospel described his parents thus,
...there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years (Lk 1:5-7).
Based on the current trend of explaining human suffering, how can one explain the situation in which the holy priest, Zechariah, and his holy wife, Elizabeth, found themselves? Even their lineage did not have answers because nobody in his/her right senses can attribute their predicament to any ancestral curse. Or could it be the handiwork of witches and wizards or evil men and women or even resulting from a combined team?
Our call to be Christians is often misunderstood to be a call to a luxurious living. Jesus stated categorically, “Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him” (Jn 13:16). No doubt, Jesus is both the master and the one who sends in this case. How luxurious was His earthly life? Again He warns, “whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it” (Mk 8:35; cf. Matt 10:39. 16:25; Lk 9:24). In the gospel according to John Jesus is also saying, “this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day” (Jn 6:39). Again, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:44). Our call basically is for the world to come.
The message of angel Gabriel to Zechariah about the birth of John the Baptist reads in part, “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth” (Lk 1:13-14).
In today’s gospel, people who rejoiced at his birth became an obstacle. With every good intention, they wanted the child to be named after his father, Zechariah in line with their custom. But Elizabeth and Zechariah followed God’s counsel which stands for ever, cf. Ps 33:11.
John came to prepare the way for the Lord, cf. Is 40:3; Mal 3:1; Matt 3:3. He never deviated from the call, cf. Matt 3:11; Jn 1:19-23; Acts 13:24-25; 19:4. When it was reported to him that Jesus was baptising and that all were going to Him, he replied, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (cf. Jn 3:30).
We rejoice with Zechariah and Elizabeth today at the birth of John because they waited for God’s time to a point all considered hopeless. They never deviated from God’s will. Because the people were in expectation, it would have been very easy for John to steal the stage but he did not, cf. Lk 3:15. Yet Jesus described him as the greatest of all born of women, cf. Lk 7:28.
It is not only that the gate to true success is narrow and the way hard, but often the whole thing looks so stupid. Hence, many do not find it, cf. Matt 7:14. Never forget that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1Cor 1:25). Never leave God’s will for any other. And be the best of the person God created in you. Finally, “...in everything God works for good with those who love him” (Rom 8:28).
Bible Reading: Lk 1:5-25; Jn 3:22-30; Ps 33.
Thought for today: God’s counsel is assured?
Let us pray: God, help us to follow you wholeheartedly without looking to either right or left – Amen.
Saint John the Baptist – Pray for us
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