June 23, 2022 – Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/062322-day.cfm)
Today we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist a very important figure in the New Testament. This is the reason why the Church celebrates with great dignity his birth. How significant was he then? The Lord promised to send a Messiah who will come to us in order to save us. But before the Messiah will come, a person shall be sent first to serve as a herald who will prepare God’s people for the coming of the Messiah. This herald will not only announce the coming of the Messiah but he too will lead the people to recognize who the Messiah is.
In the prophecy of the Book of Isaiah, this person shall be a light of the nations because he will teach, lead and gather the people to see God.
We have heard in the first reading how Isaiah described God calling his herald even before his birth. This herald has been named and appointed by God to lead his people. This is God’s promise to be first fulfilled through the participation of humanity, through us.
Thus, the birth of John was announced to an old couple, Zechariah and Elizabeth who were believed to be barren and cursed. However, to the surprise of this old couple an angel announced that they will have a son. Elizabeth welcomed the message from God, but her husband, because it was too much to believe could not accept God’s gift. That is why, Zechariah was silenced by God. He only recovered his voice when his son was born. It was when he gave the name John to his son that the Lord opened his mouth again because the Lord is gracious. Yes, the name John or Johannes means the Lord is gracious.
The birth of John is God’s manifestation that He is indeed gracious and faithful despite our unbelief and doubts. God continues to reveal himself to us even though we refuse to believe.
This was the role of John and that was to bring people again to believe that God has never abandoned us. God remembers and God is here with us. This brings us now into the theme of this fourth day of our Novena in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Feast to be celebrated on June 29 in Iloilo City): Mary walks! And yes, as Mary walks, God also walks. God walks because God remembers His people.
What does this tell us now? What is God’s invitation for us now? As John was born, God also reveals his graciousness in us. And as Mary walks to help Elizabeth in giving birth to John, Mary’s presence in the birth of John also tells us of a loving presence that is ready to accompany and to be there for us in times of our needs and sorrows, and also in times of our victory and joys.
Thus, there are at least two invitations for us now on this Nativity of John the Baptist and 4th day of our Novena in honor Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
First, to be gracious. As God reveals his graciousness through the birth of John, let us also be gracious and be kind to people around us. Expressing our graciousness or kindness to all reveals our heart that is grounded in love and filled with gratitude because God has truly worked wonders in our life.
Second, we can also show our graciousness by allowing ourselves to walk with others. Life will surely be more colorful and uplifting despite the challenges we have, when we walk with friends. When we allow others to walk with us and ourselves by being generous to walk with others too, it expresses not just our concern for one another but to be in solidarity with each one. And this is what Mary showed as she walked with graciousness in her heart. Kabay pa.