The word of salvation has been sent to us

Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist

The Church celebrates the birth of only three people: Jesus, December 25; the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 8; and John the Baptist, June 24. The life of John the Baptist is that significant. As the last of the OT prophets, he creates a boundary line between the old and new covenants. When we seek out, listen, then adhere to the message of John the Baptist, his life can be also for us a bridge between the old and the new, the lost sinner and the found son.

The Gospel recalls the birth and naming of John the Baptist, and that his life will be spent in the desert. In the NT reading, Paul’s preaching in the synagogue tells us more about the life of John the Baptist.  Before Jesus began his public ministry, people were wondering if John might be the long-awaited Messiah. John was, however, the precursor of the light of the world. John’s preaching and baptism were one of repentance, that people may prepare themselves and be ready for the coming Messiah.

The OT reading speaks of the Suffering Servant (Jesus), who is to come, but it can also be said of John the Baptist that God made of him a sharp-edged sword. Some may look at John’s life and wonder what to make of his ascetic lifestyle and was it worth it to lose his life for speaking God’s truth about marriage. But John was not in the world to achieve worldly success and honors or to make himself comfortable; rather, his focus was on the mission God gave him, and his recompense, too, is with the Lord.

The message of the psalm is true for all of us: we are all fearfully and wonderfully made. God knows everything about us; he knows us better than we know ourselves. Indeed, he knows what will make us joyful and bring us peace and what will do us harm. God has a beautiful plan for each of our lives. The word of salvation has been sent to us. We, too, are chosen. We, too, have a role to play in our place and time.

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Isaiah 49:1–6

Hear me, O coastlands,
listen, O distant peoples.
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
that Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Psalm: 139:1B–3, 13–14AB, 14C–15

O LORD, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.

Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.

My soul also you knew full well;
nor was my frame unknown to you
When I was made in secret,
when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.
R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.

Epistle: Acts 13:22–26

In those days, Paul said:
“God raised up David as king;
of him God testified,
I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;
he will carry out my every wish.

From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise,
has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance
to all the people of Israel;
and as John was completing his course, he would say,
‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.
Behold, one is coming after me;
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’

“My brothers, sons of the family of Abraham,
and those others among you who are God-fearing,
to us this word of salvation has been sent.”

Gospel: Luke 1:57–66, 80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?”
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.

Question of the Day

What then will this child be?

Prayer

May all mothers and fathers look with wonder and awe at the new life God knits in the womb, and generously sacrifice their own plans and desires to embrace the blessings God desires to bestow.

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