Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist
Book of the Prophet Isaiah 49:1-6, Psalm 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15,
Acts of the Apostles 13:22-26, & Luke 1:57-66, 80
Today our Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist, the birthday of the one who preceded Jesus in birth by six months, and also proclaiming His coming.
In our first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, we hear a prophecy of one who boasts that the Lord gave him his name before he was born. The liturgy uses this passage from Isaiah to consider the importance of John as a “servant of God.” John was to become, “A light to all nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
In our second reading from Acts, we hear Paul telling of the great work of John. He said, “John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.”
Then, in the Gospel of Saint Luke, there is a narrative with a bit of a twist. The child is given a name not according to family tradition. The father had been struck dumb at John’s conception, and now he writes the name of the child on a tablet, and his tongue is freed to speak “in praise of God.” As the news about this event spread, and the people wondered, “What then, will this child be?”
Today’s Solemnity celebrates God’s plan and God’s ways of unfolding our salvation plan through the natural design of the human being. There is birth, and there is mystery. There is greatness, yet little is revealed. There is the importance of time, but all done within God’s good time. John grew up and lived in the wilderness; Jesus grew up in the closed life of Nazareth. When it was time for growing up to be over, the two most significant ministries are the world has ever known were about to begin.
John’s birthday is a celebration of the dignity of both those who went before Jesus and those, like us, who are born to follow Him. All creation, now coming to birth again, assume this sacramental dignity and the opportunity to listen to the voice crying out in the desert; “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.”
Happy birthday John, and we thank you.
Question of the Day: How do you proclaim the Good News to others?
Prayer: “You, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way. Alleluia, alleluia.”