Saturday, June 23, 2007


Solemnity of the Birth of St John the Baptist

June 24, 2007
Solemnity of the Birth of St John the Baptist

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

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."

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

Is there not something different about today's liturgy? The Easter
Season ended with Pentecost on May 27. Then on the next two Sundays,
June 3 and June 10, we celebrated the Solemnities of the Most Holy
Trinity and The Body and Blood of Christ. Then followed the 11th
Sunday in Ordinary Time. This Sunday should be the 12th Sunday in
Ordinary Time, were it not for the fact that June 24 is the
commemoration of the Birth of John the Baptist. This solemnity
replaces the liturgy for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Why is the Birth of St. John the Baptist given such liturgical
importance? Because in a real way, the life of St. John the Baptist,
from beginning to end, is the kind of life each one of us should be
living. By focusing our attention on St. John the Baptist, today's
liturgy is inviting us to reflect on what it means to be a Christian.
Of course, a Christian is a follower or disciple of Jesus Christ. But
what are the concrete implications of following Jesus Christ, of
Christian discipleship?

One implication is this: to follow Jesus Christ, to be a genuine
Christian, demands standing against the culture. The disciple of Jesus
Christ is counter-cultural. St. John the Baptist is a clear and
convincing model of the counter-cultural person. So, by reflecting on
his life, we learn a great deal about how following the Lord Jesus
involves our being counter-cultural in today's society.

There are many areas in contemporary living in which you and I, as
disciples of Jesus Christ, are called upon to be counter-cultural. Let
me propose for our reflection today three: (1) self-identity, (2)
values, (3) life-style.

First, self-identity. Self-identity implies understanding and
accepting who one is as a person. John the Baptist was very clear
about who he was and was not. John would say: "Who do you suppose that
I am? I am not the Messiah or Savior. Behold, one is coming after me;
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet." John knew who he
was: a voice crying out in the wilderness, one called to prepare the
way of the Lord." He knew that he was the herald of the Messiah, the
servant of the Lord, a light to the nations.

We too must be counter-cultural in terms of our self-identity. Each of
us is a person loved by God and gifted with human life at conception.
Each one of us is a person of infinite dignity and worth, not because
of what we do, but because of who we are in the sight of God, namely a
person consecrated at Baptism, given a share in God's own divine life
and called to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. We are people with
strengths and weaknesses, invited daily to conversion and holiness.
Like John the Baptist, each one of us must be honest about who we are.
How different this will be in our culture of restlessness and self-

Second, values. Values influence our choices and decisions. John the
Baptist's values were likewise clear and certain. There was truth
rooted in the Word of God. So he confronted hypocritical religious
living. There was the centrality of God. So he proclaimed: "He must
increase, I must decrease." There was conversion. So he challenged
people to personal reform and to a change of heart. There was
fidelity. So he died a martyr's death for the sake of truth.

Like John the Baptist, we too must be counter-cultural in terms of the
values we formulate and by which we live. We must make the truth our
guiding principle, the truth that is rooted in God's Word and taught
by the Church. The truth that is The Gospel of Life and The Splendor
of the Truth, the truth about the centrality of God in our lives and
in the world. The truth about life in every stage, beginning at
conception and ending at natural death; the truth about moral living.
Like John the Baptist, each of us must formulate and live values which
are integrated with the Truth. How different this will be in our
culture whose values are fake, false and, therefore, empty.

Third, life-style. Life-style implies the pattern of how we go about
living life day by day. John the Baptist's lifestyle was simple, even
very austere. We must be counter-cultural in terms of our life-style.
Do we live simply and without pretense, using responsibly our
resources for the welfare of our families and the support of those who
are truly poor and in need? Does our clothing reflect the
understanding that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and,
therefore, deserving of respect? Do we value the persons in our lives
above material things, so that we spend more time with them than with
earning more money?

Like John the Baptist, each one of us must fashion a lifestyle that
will make the Gospel easier to preach, to see, to influence. How
different this will be in our culture with its self-centered and
inauthentic life-style.

Ultimately, we must be counter-cultural in terms of being really
Christian, genuinely Christian, in all of life, not just at the Sunday
liturgy. We are called and challenged to declare by the life-style we
fashion, by the values we formulate, by the self-identity we reflect,
the centrality of Jesus in our daily lives. We must be counter-
cultural by proclaiming more through action than by words: "Jesus is

That is what John the Baptist did. That is what we must try to do and
to be, in reliving his life in ours. That is the message of today's
feast, celebrating the birth of John the Baptist.

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(c) 2007 Daily-Homily

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