Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
June 24, 2018 – Year B
Readings: Is 49:1-6 / Ps 139 / Acts 13:22-26 / Lk 1:57-66, 80
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
Yesterday, as I was greeting the people who attended the Mass at our sister parish, Resurrection, a young man whom I was meeting for the first time there was trying to communicate with me through sign language. Apparently he was unable to speak. I tried to understand him, but I could not figure out what he was trying to say. From the look on his face, I would say he was as frustrated as I was. In desperation, he just shook my hand and waved to me on his way out, the only message I understood.
Today we are celebrating the feast day of the birth of Saint John the Baptist. For nine months while he was in the womb of his mother, St. Elizabeth, his father Zechariah was unable to speak. Only God knows how frustrated he was. When John was born, Zechariah was so happy, partly because he was able to speak again. The first words out of his month were the famous canticle which is part of the morning prayers spoken daily by many religious groups. These are the words he said:
Blessed be the Lord,
the God of Israel;
He has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Savior,
born of the house of His servant David.
Through His holy prophets He promised of old
That He would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
And to remember His holy Covenant.
This was the oath that He swore to our father Abraham:
To set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship Him without fear,
Holy and righteous in His sight
All the days of our life.
And then he addressed the newborn child, John the Baptist:
You, my child, shall be called
The prophet of the Most High,
For you will go before the Lord to prepare the way for Him,
To give His people knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God
The dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness
And the shadow of death,
And to guide our feet into the way of peace.
What a beautiful canticle and prophecy! Although John was still a baby and had no idea what his father was saying, he repeated these words when he was completing his ministry to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus. This prophecy of Zechariah was fulfilled during the three years of Jesus’ public life and ministry. He was indeed the light for those who dwell in the darkness and the shadow of death. He is still the light for all of us up to this present moment.
Yesterday morning, the Holy Name of Mary men’s breakfast group was here for morning prayers, and the scripture reading was from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, where he was instructing the early Christians in Philippi to be the light in darkness. He also told them that they should shine like stars in the night.
Those instructions are for us as well. As members of God’s family, we are indeed Children of Light. But we cannot accomplish this on our own. We should always have in mind that the Lord God is the source of light: He is the sun and we are the moon. If we continue to live in His loving presence and remain close to Him, our lives will be full of love and good works and will illuminate the place where we live. If each and every Christian would shed light in their own little way, what a bright world this would be.