THE WORD BECAME FLESH
Thursday of the twelfth week in Ordinary Time, 2021
Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist.
Luke 1:57-66, 80
John the Baptist is the only saint, after Jesus himself, whose birth the church celebrates with a solemn feast. We celebrate the birth of John the Baptist on June 24th, six months before we celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th.
There was something special about John the Baptist. The gospel reading this morning (Lk 1:57-66,80) suggests that his being given the name ‘John’ was itself special or unusual. Neighbours and relations objected to this name. ‘No one in your family has that name’, they said. Yet, John’s parents understood that God wanted their child to be called ‘John’.
In Hebrew, the name ‘John’ means ‘the Lord has shown favour’. God was inaugurating a new era of favour through this child. After the resistance of the neighbours and relations to this unconventional name had been overcome, they went on to ask, ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ That question of the neighbours and relations could be asked of any of us at every stage of our lives, ‘What will we turn out to be?’, or to put the question in other terms, ‘Who is God calling us to be’?
Our calling is to surrender to what today’s second reading calls, God’s ‘whole purpose’ for our lives, as John did. God’s purpose for John’s life and God’s purpose for all our lives have a great deal in common. God wants all of us to do what John did, to point out the Saviour, to make way for Jesus, to lead others to him by what we say and do. John the Baptist has something to teach us about how we might keep faithful to this God-given calling. He was a man of the desert, a man of prayer. We all need to find our own desert place of prayer if we are to remain true to our calling, if we are to turn out as God wants us to.
Let us pray: God our Father, you raised up John the Baptist to prepare a perfect people for Christ the Lord. Give your church joy in spirit and guide those who believe in you into the way of salvation and peace. Amen.