June 24, 2018: The Nativity of St John the Baptist
Catholic Social Teaching: Solidarity
JUN. 24, 2014
Pope: Announce Christ Like John the Baptist
The Holy Father reflected on the prophet’s witness on the feast of his birthday.
VATICAN CITY — In his homily for the feast of John the Baptist’s birth, Pope Francis emphasized that a true Christian puts oneself aside in order for God to be seen, as St. John the Baptist did.
“A Christian does not announce himself; he announces another, prepares the way for another: the Lord,” the Pope observed in his June 24 daily Mass.
Celebrating the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the Pope explained to those present at the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse that the cousin of Jesus had a threefold vocation: to prepare the way for the Messiah, to discern who he was and to diminish himself so that others would follow Jesus.
Although many began to follow John because “his words were strong” and went “to the heart,” the saint did not give in to temptation “to believe that he was important,” Pope Francis said.
Instead, when asked whether or not he was the Messiah, John replied, “I am preparing the way of the Lord.”
This is the first vocation of the Baptist, to “prepare the people, to prepare the hearts of the people for the encounter with the Lord,” Francis said.
The second part of John’s vocation was “to discern, from among so many good people, who the Lord was,” he continued, noting how “the Spirit revealed this to him, and he had the courage of saying: ‘This is the one. This is the Lamb of God, he who takes away the sins of the world.’”
Pope Francis noted that when John declared, “This is the one and more worthy than me!” the disciples left him and followed Jesus.
The third aspect of John’s vocation was to diminish, and his “life began to descend, to diminish, because the Lord would grow until he was destroyed.”
“He must increase, but I must decrease,” the Pope said, adding that “this was the more difficult stage for John, because the Lord had a style that he had not imagined.”
John the Baptist was imprisoned at the end of his life and had to send his disciples to confirm that Jesus was the Messiah.
“He suffered not only the darkness of the cell, but the darkness in his heart: ‘But will it be this one? Did I make a mistake?’” Pope Francis said.
It was not clear if Jesus was the Messiah, because he came in a much different way than expected, the Pope reflected. However, since John “was a man of God, he asked his disciples to go to (Jesus) and ask: ‘But is it really you? Or should we wait for another?’”
First Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-10
Psalm: 71:1-2., 3-4a, 5-6ab, 15ab and 17
Second Reading: 1st Peter 1:8-12
Gospel: Luke 1:5-17
First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-6
Psalm: 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15
Second Reading: Acts 13:22-26
Gospel: Luke 1:57-66, 80
Catechism of the Catholic Church
John the Baptist is “more than a prophet.” In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah. He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel; he is the “voice” of the Consoler who is coming. As the Spirit of truth will also do, John “came to bear witness to the light.” In John’s sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels. “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. . . . Behold, the Lamb of God.” (719) From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the, Cycle B
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
The fundamental message of Sacred Scripture proclaims that the human person is a creature of God (cf. Ps 139:14-18), and sees in his being in the image of God the element that characterizes and distinguishes him: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). God places the human creature at the centre and summit of the created order. Man (in Hebrew, “adam”) is formed from the earth (“adamah”) and God blows into his nostrils the breath of life (cf. Gen 2:7). Therefore, “being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons. Further, he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his stead”. (108)
Today, we step away from Ordinary Time to celebrate the birth of St John the Baptist. The last and greatest prophet, in a lineage from Elijah, prepared the way of the Lord. Leaping for joy in his mother’s womb when Mary visited Elizabeth to fearlessly preaching a baptism of repentance. He rooted tradition to plant seeds for the One to come.
Do we take to heart the prophets of Scripture and prophets of our day? Will their words mesmerize us or propel us to action, follow in their footsteps? Where are those in position of prophetic leadership mute admits challenging divides in society and culture? Are you ready to take the risk to be a prophet for the sake of the Gospel and the world? When we ponder these questions we expand our vision beyond ourselves to a broader perspective grasping to solidarity as a Divine ideal. Not smudging the paper to obliterate the most challenging paradigms or pop in ear buds to dance to our own tune but live with rejoicing for the insights prophets have or will proclaim. Acclamations to make our souls realize they did not toil in vain for they lived as a light to the nations. Do we envision their lack of fear as a model for action or does fear consumes us from the reality of the words they speak? How we respond with clarity of our call to build and plant in God’s Kingdom acclaims the prophetic call of our baptism to be priest, prophet and king. Waters John the Baptist poured over Christ, for John came to testify to the light to prepare a people fit for the Lord (Gospel acclamation Vigil Mass). And in the spiritual refreshment we each have received will we let our mouths declare the Lord’s justice and day by day His salvation and wondrous deeds?
Individual Reflection: Jeremiah 1:4-10
Write a journal entry about five prophets that have influenced your life. Share with five people.
Family Reflection: Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4a, 5-6ab, 15ab and 17
Learn about policies that help families in poverty and how might your family get involved to be prophets in your parish about these issues?
Prayer: Over the Offerings Vigil Mass of the Nativity of St John the Baptist
Look with favor O Lord upon the offerings made by your people on the Solemnity of Saint John the Baptist and grant that what we celebrate in mystery we may follow with deeds of devoted service, Through Christ our Lord.
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By Barb Born June 18, 2018 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.