CELEBRATING THE BIRTHDAY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST: IMPLICATIONS FOR OUR WORLD OF TODAY
Readings: Is 49:1-6; Ps 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15, Acts 13:22-26; Gosp. Luke 1:57-66, 80
The Church celebrates three birthday solemnities– The Nativity of Jesus, the Nativity of Mary and that of John the Baptist. This gives a glimpse of the greatness of the saint whose birthday we celebrate. Little wonder Jesus himself proclaimed of John the Baptist, “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John” (Luke 7:28). This is true to the name of John whose meaning is “God’s gracious gift.” Ordinarily, gifts when received are celebrated to show appreciation to the giver and the gift itself. If such is the situation for mere human artefacts, how much greater is the worth of a human being? How great was the joy of Zechariah and Elizabeth who at this point receives the gift of a child from God whose nature knows no impossibility? Children, indeed, are God’s gracious gifts to us. As such, the birth of a child initiates a joyful celebration.
The Feast of today
Birthday celebrations in our secular world renew the joy of our birth as God’s gracious gifts. On such days, one receives many pleasantries and gifts of value from family and friends, reminders of our worth to them. Today, we gather to celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist. What gifts and pleasantries do we bring to the Creator and Giver of the Gift?
In the first reading, God speaks through Isaiah to us reminding us that we are His precious gifts to the world created by him in love. As such, we have being destined by him for a purpose, or if you like a mission (49:1-6). The Responsorial Psalm sings this beauty of our being wonderfully, It was you who created my inmost self, and put me together in my mother’s womb; for all these mysteries I thank you: for the wonder of myself, for the wonder of your works (Ps 139:13-14).
The early part of Luke 1 from which today’s gospel episode is taken has it that John already received the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb for his mission (cf. Luke 1:15). Therefore, his birth and the scenario of the name giving only reveal the significance of God’s power through creation. Today’s feast, therefore, reveals that from the moment of our conception, God already started a great work which reveals more his Omnipotence and Omni-benevolence. This St. Paul speaks of in relation to the mission of John the Baptist in the second reading (Acts 13: 22-26).
Celebration of John the Baptist’s Birth: Implications for us today
The world in which we live has become a network of the enthronement of maniac mundane cultures that thwart the will of the Almighty who in his love created it. From the readings, one understands that the birth of a child initiates God’s great blessings and glorious works in the life of the recipients of the gracious gift. However, the opposite seems to hold sway in our time. Our world has gone mad with enthroning the culture of death as against the culture of life. Evidence of this is seen in the signing into law bills of cultures that demean not only the value of man, but life itself. The greatest of these cultures is abortion, which contravenes the will of the Almighty for the purpose of life. Children are gifts from God and continue the progress of God’s work of creation, a sign and proof of the fecundity of his love. When a pre-born child is aborted, a whole lot of God’s love and blessing for our generation is aborted and destroyed for all eternity.
Oh! How many great men and women our world has lost to the culture of death today! It is clear to me that the words of Pope Francis prove a fact that “a generation that kills her children has no future.” God has a glorious and blessed purpose in the birth of every child. This he makes clear to us in the words of Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you a prophet to the nations” (1:5). This indicates that God has marked every one of us like Jeremiah, Amos, John the Baptist, Ss Francis of Assisi, Pio of Pietrelcina Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Calcutta, etc for a special mission. If the denial of an opportunity to fulfil one’s good and gracious right/mission is awful, painful and inconsiderate, how much awful, horrible, inhuman and disastrous the denial of right to life and mission? How many times have you involved yourself in promoting the culture of death?
Birthday celebrations are continuations of the celebrations of a joyous gift – man/woman, the “beauty of life.” Let us realise, therefore, that it is a holy duty bound on us to protect life in order to enhance our joy in life and joy of celebrating the precious gift of life in man. We pray that God strengthens us each day to stand firm on the side of the culture of life. May the birthday celebration of John the Baptist restore in our world deep appreciation and value for Life.
– from http://ladyewellshrine.co.uk/homily-reflection-solenity-of-the-nativity-of-john-the-baptist/