June 24, 2008
The Nativity of John the Baptist
Luke 1: 57-66; 80
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, "No; he is to be called John." They said to her, "None of your relatives has this name." Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, "His name is John." And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, "What then will this child become?" For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I place myself in your presence. I have set aside this moment for you, so that you can speak to me and I can listen to your words. Speak to my heart! I believe that you are present, with all the graces I need right now, in the current circumstances of my life. I hope in you, Lord, because I know I cannot place my hope in the things of the world. I love you, Lord, and I know how much you love me.
Petition: Lord God, help me to live my mission.
1. John’s Mission The birth of John the Baptist is important because it is the parting of waters between the Old and the New Testament. The focus of history has now shifted: The yearning of the people for a Messiah has now become realized here and now. The Kingdom of God is at hand. It was John’s duty and honor to proclaim the Messiah’s coming. Today, as we celebrate his birth, we can again recall how much our life has been transformed by the coming of Christ. What generations yearned for, we possess. Let us be grateful that we belong to the People of God, who know the Messiah.
2. Live Your Mission “What then will this child become?” Perhaps all parents ask this question at the birth of their child, but given the extraordinary circumstances that surrounded John’s birth, it was evident that God had a special plan for him. As John grew, he realized that he was a man with a mission; likewise, we, too, have a mission. We are called to live our mission and build a better world. This passage gives us the opportunity to reflect again before God what our personal mission is.
3. Build a Better World “The child grew and became strong in spirit.” We have all received the Holy Spirit at our baptism, but the Holy Spirit is something that we must receive again and again. For this reason the hymns of the Church to the Holy Spirit always begin with, “Come!”—“Come, O Creator Spirit!”—“Come, Holy Spirit!” St. Thomas Aquinas writes, “There is an invisible mission of the Spirit every time there is a progress in virtue or in grace; whenever someone moves to a new activity or a new state of grace” (Summa theologiae, I, q. 43, a. 6, ad 2). By following the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, we build a better world.
Dialogue with Christ: “O God I love thee, I love thee—Not out of hope of heaven for me, nor fearing not to love and be in the everlasting burning. Thou, thou, my Jesus, after me didst reach thine arms out dying, for my sake sufferedst nails and lance, mocked and marred countenance, sorrows passing number, sweat and care and cumber; yea and death, and this for me, and though couldst see me sinning: then I, why should not I love thee, Jesus, so much in love with me?” (Gerard Manly Hopkins, O Deus Ego Amo Te).
Resolution: Today I will respond generously to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
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