Thursday, 24 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the occasion of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, celebrating the moment when St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Messiah and the Lord was born into this world, marking the moment when God began to reveal the truth about His plans and designs for all of us. Through St. John the Baptist, God would show Himself and fulfil what He had promised to all of us, the salvation and eternal life that He has in mind for us.

St. John the Baptist had that very crucial role as the one who would reveal the Messiah to the world, and he had been prophesied since the old days of the previous prophets, as we heard in our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Isaiah. That is why his role was so important and why he has been so highly regarded in the Church, honoured as the only saint besides Mary, the Mother of God, to have his nativity or birth celebrated.

St. John the Baptist was the relative of the Lord Jesus, as Elizabeth, his mother was the cousin of Mary, the Mother of the Lord. His birth and in fact conception, was miraculous as Elizabeth was already in her old age, and she had not been able to conceive a child previously. However, to the Lord nothing indeed is impossible, just as He has been able to make Sarah, the wife of Abraham to bear a child in her old age, and how Hannah, the mother of Samuel, was able to bear him after a long time being barren.

But it is not the familial connection which made St. John the Baptist to be such an important figure, but rather his commitment, his conviction and faith, his efforts and all the time that he had spent in fulfilling the most important mission that had been entrusted to him. He dedicated himself to be the one to prepare the path for the coming of the Lord, giving himself to the ministry by which he called so many people to turn away from their sins and to embrace God’s mercy and love.

St. John the Baptist called on the people to abandon their wicked and sinful ways and to embrace God’s mercy, by calling them to be baptised with sincere heart, that through the baptism, they would come to embrace the Lord and commit themselves to abandon their wicked ways. St. John the Baptist even confronted the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were sent to him to question his actions and his authority, and rebuked them as wicked leaders who misguided the people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. John the Baptist gave his all to the Lord, and committed himself to Him, even to stand up against rulers and kings, the powerful Pharisees and others, which cost him his freedom, brought to jail by king Herod for his rebuke of the adulterous behaviour the latter committed, and eventually, as we all know, he would die a martyr of the faith, defending his faith to the very end. This here is a most faithful servant of God, who gave his all to his Lord and Master.

Not only that, but he was also humble and upright, when he willingly let his disciples to go and follow the Lord instead of him, as he was merely the Herald, and when he saw the One Whom he was prophesying and preaching about gaining in stature and popularity, he was happy and elated rather than being jealous, unless what most other people would have done, were they in the same situation faced by St. John the Baptist, showing how he was indeed a servant of God who put God first and foremost in his life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all turn towards the Lord with a renewed faith, conviction and zeal, and with the desire to love Him and serve Him much as St. John the Baptist had done in his life. As we recall the memory of this great saint and rejoice in his Nativity today, we are all called to follow in his footsteps and to be inspired by his faith and dedication in fulfilling the mission entrusted to him by the Lord, his commitment and conviction to do all things for the greater glory of God.

Let us all therefore inspire one another to live our faith and our lives as best as we are able to, in being upright and just, in being faithful and committed in all things, just as we all have our own calling and responsibilities in life as Christians living in our world today. May all of us be good examples and inspirations to one another, that we may help each other in our journey towards the Lord. May God bless us all, in all things, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 24 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 57-66, 80

When the time came for Elizabeth, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the merciful Lord had done a wonderful thing for her, and they rejoiced with her. When, on the eighth day, they came to attend the circumcision of the child, they wanted to name him Zechariah after his father.

But his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” They said to her, “But no one in your family has that name!” and they made signs to his father for the name he wanted to give him. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet, and wrote on it, “His name is John;” and they were very surprised. Immediately, Zechariah could speak again, and his first words were in praise of God.

A holy fear came on all in the neighbourhood, and throughout the hill country of Judea and the people talked about these events. All who heard of it, pondered in their minds, and wondered, “What will this child be?” For they understood that the hand of the Lord was with him.

As the child grew up, he was seen to be strong in the Spirit; and he lived in the desert, until the day when he appeared openly in Israel.

Thursday, 24 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 13 : 22-26

After that time, God removed Saul and raised up David as king, to whom He bore witness saying : I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all I want him to do.

It is from the descendants of David that God has now raised up the promised Saviour of Israel, Jesus. Before He appeared, John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for all the people of Israel. As John was ending his life’s work, he said : ‘I am not what you think I am, for, after me, another One is coming, Whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.’

Brothers, children and descendants of Abraham, and you, also, who fear God, it is to you that this message of salvation has been sent.

Thursday, 24 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 138 : 1-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15

O YHVH, You know me : You have scrutinised me. You know when I sit and when I rise; beforehand, You discern my thoughts. You observe my activities and times of rest; You are familiar with all my ways.

It was You Who formed my inmost part and knit me together in my mother’s womb. I thank You for these wonders You have done, and my heart praises You.

For Your marvellous deeds. Even my bones were known to You when I was being formed in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth.

Thursday, 24 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 49 : 1-6

Listen to me, o islands, pay attention, people from distant lands. YHVH called me from my mother’s womb; He pronounced my name before I was born. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword. He hid me in the shadow of His hand. He made me into a polished arrow set apart in His quiver.

He said to me, “You are Israel, My servant. Through you I will be known.” “I have laboured in vain,” I thought, “and spent my strength for nothing.” Yet what is due me was in the hand of YHVH, and my reward was with my God. I am important in the sight of YHVH, and my God is my Strength.

And now YHVH has spoken, He Who formed me in the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, to gather Israel to Him. He said : “It is not enough that you be My servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob, to bring back the remnant of Israel. I will make you the light of the nations, that My salvation will reach to the ends of the earth.”