Jun 24 – Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist
John the Baptist (d.30) was the cousin of Jesus Christ. His father, Zachary, was a priest of the order of Abia whose job in the Temple was to burn incense; and of Elizabeth, a descendant of Aaron. As Zachary was ministering in the Temple, an angel brought him news that Elizabeth would bear a child filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment of his birth. Zachary doubted and was struck dumb until John’s birth.
John began his ministry as prophet around age 27, wearing a leather belt and a tunic of camel hair, living off locusts and wild honey, and preaching a message of repentance to the people of Jerusalem. He converted many, and prepared the way for the coming of Jesus. After baptizing Christ, he told his disciples to follow Jesus.
Imprisoned by King Herod, John the Baptist died a victim of the vengeance of a jealous woman; he was beheaded, and his head brought to her on a platter. St. Jerome says Herodias kept the head for a long time after, occasionally stabbing the tongue with her dagger because of what John had said in life.
- Patron Saint Index
Lk 1:57-66, 80
“The Lord called me before I was born, from my mother’s womb he pronounced my name.”
I remember very clearly, when I was pregnant in 2000 with our daughter, and years later with our son, the amount of time and effort my husband and I took in selecting their names. Parents out there will identify with this. While the new life was being formed in me, and the joy we felt in welcoming our children into our lives, giving them a name — a name of meaning — completes this mystery of creation. For the name encapsulates our joy and the hope we placed on these little beings.
In today’s gospel, Zechariah went against convention and in obedience to God, named his son John “and indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.” A name carries much significance — God gave new names to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob’s name to Israel and Simon became Peter, announcing they were destined for a new mission in life. The new name was a way to reveal the divine plan and declare that God’s plan would be fulfilled through them. Just as John was destined to be the greatest prophet!
Reflecting on today’s readings, I am reminded of God’s hope and desire for me, how I am, too, part of his divine plan. Making a name for myself brings on a whole new meaning. No longer is it about fame, wealth or popularity; I am called to fulfil His purpose for me. In today’s 2nd reading, after appointing David as king, God proclaimed “I have selected David…a man after my own heart, who will carry out my whole purpose.”
What then is God’s purpose for me? What is my mission in this life? I am called to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. I am called to share the light of Christ with others. I am my Father’s child, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5). He knows me intimately and loves me completely. He is in control of my life and my Father has specific work for me to do, which is not to make a name for myself but to make a name of Him, “so that (His) salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)
Prayer: O my Jesus, teach me your ways so that I may complete this mission that our Father has called me to; to fulfil the hope and desire He has for me, and be a prophet in my own right.
Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, I thank you for today, for your love and mercy. Most of all, thank you for this gift of life that I may have the privilege to be partakers of your divine plan here on earth.