June 24th 2012
This week none of our regular resources for material were unavailable to us. Sorry about that! (Instead, at the bottom of this page we offer two donated meditations.
Narmal Service, we hope, will be resumed next week.
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2 Brief meditations on the Nativity of St John the Baptist:
1. By the fourth century there was an almost universal celebration of John the Baptist in the liturgical calendars of the Churches. Many churches were dedicated to him. Among them was the baptismal chapel of the Lateran Basilica in Rome and eventually the basilica itself The eventual fixing of this date for the celebration of his birth seems to rest upon Gabriel’s announcement to Mary (the Annunciation, March 25) that Elizabeth, John’s mother, was already six months with child.
Inspired by the strict parallelism which Luke establishes between Jesus and the Baptist in the infancy narrative, the liturgy delights in celebrating two births: the birth of the Messiah at the winter nter solstice and the birth of his precursor at the summer solstice. This in itself speaks eloquently of John’s importance.
His is a strange destiny. It is characterized by rigorous asceticism to which he joins an intense spiritual happiness. “He will never drink wine or strong drink” (Luke 1:15), 5), yet twice in his life he greets the Lord with joy: in his mother’s womb, and, when, as an adult, he points out the Messiah. Between these two moments, he is the voice crying ng in n the desert.
Tradition sees the desert as the place where God speaks to the heart of his people but also as the dwelling place of evil. It is from this solitary place of spiritual combat, the desert bordering the Jordan, that John appears “with the spirit and the power of Elijah” (Luke 7:17). By his word of fire and his baptism with water, he must call the children of the covenant back to the Lord their God. John is not only the fiery preacher of judgement. He appears as the friend who leads the bride to the bridegroom and then withdraws. He relentlessly directs hearts toward Jesus. Then he seeks to decrease so that the other may increase. Thus is the servant conformed to his master.
2. Today’s Reading from the Gospel of Luke provides us with information regarding the birth of John the Baptist. When Elizabeth, the mother of John, gave birth to her son, the fulfillment of time had arrived. The last prophet had been sent by God. What was unique about this prophet is that while others spoke of the coming Messiah, John the Baptist personally knew the Messiah.
Because of the “old age of Elizabeth,” no one would have expected her to bear a child. In view of this, the neighbours and relatives saw this as a “great mercy to her.” Rarely does the Holy Bible use the word “great” unless something extraordinary is about to happen. When the neighbours and relatives of Elizabeth spoke of the “great mercy” that God had shown towards her, they were revealing God’s redemptive acts.
It must be remembered that the angel Gabriel had appeared to Zachariah and told him that his wife would bear a son who must be named John. Because Zachariah, being of old age, did not believe Gabriel, he became mute and was to remain so until the fulfilment of this prophecy. When Zachariah wrote on the tablet, three things became obvious. The prophecy that Elizabeth would bear a child was fulfilled. The prophecy that the child would be called John was fulfilled. And the prophecy that Zachariah would be able to speak again was fulfilled at that moment.
We may not be prophets. But we are still called to testify to the Light. We are called to testify as to what Jesus did for us. And we are called to testify as to what Jesus has done for the world by promoting His message of salvation.
This week, each and everyone of us should take a moment to assess the status of this Christian obligation. Have we answered God’s call to preach the good news? Those who have yet to do so, we members of the Parish join our prayers for the Holy Spirit to guide you in your callings. May the grace of God be with all of you.
Adapted from Catholic Doors Ministry