The Birth of St. John the Baptist Readings: Isaiah 49: 1-6, Psalm 139 Acts 13: 22-26, Luke 1: 57-80
This past June 6th, we recalled the 50th Anniversary of a promising leader, Robert Kennedy. How supportive he had been in preparing the way of the election and presidency of his other brother, John. How significant was his role in leading the Kennedy family and the nation in mourning John Kennedy’s passing?
In reflecting on the life of John the Baptist, the role of Bobby Kennedy came to mind. Both men generously prepared the way for another – John the Baptist for Jesus and Bobby for this brother John. How important to be dedicated to working beyond ourselves! Both men grew in their awareness of the needs of others and of their calling to bring forth a new era, a new way of living.
John the Baptist’s birth had not been expected. His parents were considerably older than the usual childbearing age. The name given him was not that of his father, Zachariah, as was the custom, but rather John, meaning “the Lord is gracious; the Lord has compassion.” Like the prophet Isaiah, John was called from birth to be “a light to the nations.”
As John matured, after a disciplined life in the desert, he began to preach a word of repentance, calling others to recognize and reject the shortcomings of the past, so that they might be open to the fullness of life through an encounter with the person of Jesus.
John did not call attention to himself. He knew that it was his role to prepare the way for the coming of another, “one whose sandals he was unworthy to unfasten.”
Are we not called to do the same, becoming a light that reflects the goodness of Jesus? This is not our own doing. Our task is to recognize our sinfulness and to be open to being used as God wills. Like the Baptist, we are unworthy but confident for as Psalm 139 reminds us, God can work through us for we are “wonderfully made.”
In Zacharias’ response to John’s birth, the Benedictus, we are further reminded that we have been “set free to worship without fear” called to be holy and righteous all the days of our life.”
And so we pray:
Compassionate God, continue to work in and through us. Make of us a free and loving people, formed in the way of Jesus, and increasingly committed to the well-being of our sisters and brothers. Amen.
Sister Mary Eileen O’Brien