Thursday, June 24, 2004
St. John the Baptist  

Today, the solemnity of the birth of St. John Baptist, we remember the miraculous way in which God provided a forerunner for His Son. St. John was the last in the line of Old Covenant prophets. He prepared the way for the Messiah by calling the people of Israel to repent of their sins:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.
Malachi 4:5-6

However, on this day we remember his birth which was preceded by the miraculous conception of John in the womb of his mother Elizabeth. Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah were well past the age for having children, but God saw fit to take away Elizabeth's pain by giving her a child.

As a Levitical priest, Zechariah was called to serve in the temple on a two-week basis about twice a year. The lot fell to him to burn incense in the temple. This was a once in a lifetime event given the number of priests. At this time, an angel appeared to him to announce that Zechariah and Elizabeth would have a child. Zechariah questioned what the angel said, and he was cursed to be mute until the time that the angel's words were fulfilled.

Thus, in today's Gospel reading, it is another miracle that after Zechariah confirms that his son should be named John, his tongue is loosened and he begins to praise God. Given all of this background, it is no wonder that the small village where John is born becomes filled with wonder at the news of this birth. Something very special has happened.

This shows how God's hand is always upon His plan. He does not abandon what He has begun. Israel would not be left in oppression to sin. Instead, He would send another prophet who would prepare the way for the Son of God who would set Israel free from sin.

In His infinite wisdom, the plan of salvation is interwoven with the daily lives of ordinary people. Elizabeth being barren is part of an ordinary life, but the answer to her prayers is a wonderful gift for Israel and now the whole Church. In the same way, God can use our ordinary lives to do wonderful things. We can share in God's plan of salvation for ourselves and others by giving our ordinary lives to Him. We may not end up raising St. John the Baptist who prepared the way for the Messiah, but we might be instruments of God's love in the very lives that would not otherwise know of His love.

Posted by David at 10:48 PM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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