Theme: JOHN THE BAPTIST PREPARED THE PEOPLE FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD
- Isaiah 49:1-6;
- Psalm 138 (139): 1-3. 13-15. R/ v. 14;
- Acts 13:22-26
- Luke 1:57-66. 80
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist. We celebrate the Birth of John the Baptist, because he prepared the people for the coming of the Lord!
The gospel today tells us about the birth, circumcision and naming of John the Baptist. John was born of old age parents and his mother was barren. John’s birth was from God. John was circumcised to initiate him into the people of Israel. The name John means “God is gracious”! God was gracious to John’s old age barren parents in the birth of John and more importantly, God was gracious because John heralded the coming of the Lord! (Lefrois) The gospel ends with the people asking:
“What will this child turn out to be?”
The answer is in the Canticle of Zechariah (CSB):
“As for you, little child, you shall be called a prophet of God, the Most High. You shall go ahead of the Lord to prepare his ways before him.” (cf. Lk 1:76; Gospel Acclamation; SM)
Indeed the second reading tells us that he will prepare the way of the Lord by proclaiming a baptism of repentance and by declaring that he was not the one the people imagined him to be and that the one was coming after him whose sandals he was not worthy to undo! Thus we read in the second reading:
“God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Savior, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his career he said, ‘I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.’” (Ac 13:23-25; SM)
The first reading is taken from the second of four suffering servant songs of Isaiah. The first reading was chosen to tell us about the birth of John the Baptist (Fuller), but more importantly, the first reading tells us about our Savior Jesus Christ whom John heralded!
The first reading tells us that our Savior Jesus Christ will come as a Suffering Servant of God. Though innocent, he will suffer and die for the salvation of sinners! Vicarious suffering! Vicarious sacrifice!
Thus he will be “the light of the nations” (Is 49:6; SM). Light in the New Testament symbolizes three things: (i) Light symbolizes faith in God as opposed to unbelief which is darkness and blindness. (ii) Light symbolizes life, happiness and contentment as opposed to death, misery and unhappiness which is darkness. (iii) Light symbolizes good as opposed to evil which is darkness. (Lk 2:32; Acts 13:47; Jn 8:12b; NJB)
More importantly, the three are connected, that is, faith in God brings new life from God and that new life is good! Most importantly, in the end, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death and good will over come evil! And that would be the salvation of the world! Thus we read in the first reading:
“I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Is 49:6; SM)
The responsorial psalm was also chosen to tell us about the birth of John the Baptist (Fuller), thus the response: “I thank you for the wonder of my being”. (Ps 138 (139): 14; SM)
But originally, the responsorial psalm tells us that God is all knowing! (NJBC)
The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that God is all knowing. God knows even our “thoughts” and our “ways”! (vv. 1-3) The second and third stanzas tell us that God knows us because God created us! (vv. 13-15)
To know is to love! We cannot love someone we do not know! God knows us, loves us, and saves us, so that we can be happy with him forever! We know God, love God, and serve God, so that we can be happy with him forever! To know is to love, to love is to serve, and to serve is to be happy forever! The same is true of knowing, loving, serving and being happy with our neighbor forever!
As we celebrate the Solemnity of The Birth of John the Baptist today, let us thank God for John the Baptist, and let us thank God especially for Jesus Christ whom he heralded, and let us ask God to help us to be John the Baptist, to prepare the way for the Second Coming of the Lord, to prepare the people for the Second Coming of the Lord by announcing the Gospel of the Lord! A happy and blessed feast day to all of you!