Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are celebrating the feast of the birth of St. John the Baptist, the relative of our Lord Jesus Christ by virtue of his mother, Elizabeth, being the cousin of Mary, the mother of our Lord. St. John the Baptist is known for his role in preparing the way for Christ, straightening the path for His arrival into this world, preceding the Lord Himself by a few months. He baptised peoples and asked them to repent from their sins, so that they would not fall into damnation, and be open for Christ when He came.
St. John the Baptist is a great saint, brothers and sisters, and he is considered by many to be one of the prophets reborn once again, particularly that of Elijah, sent by the Lord for the sake of Christ, as His messenger, and as His herald, proclaiming His arrival into the world. The events surrounding his birth is not ordinary either, because he was born out of an aging parent, an aging mother who could no longer conceive, but because of the power of the Lord and the Holy Spirit, conceived, and brought John into this world.
Like the passage in the first reading from the book of the prophet Jeremiah, the words themselves spoke about St. John the Baptist and his life, in that he had been chosen by the Lord since his conception, and before he was even born, as the angel told Zechariah, John’s father in the Temple of Jerusalem. He had been chosen from among many, to be the messenger of the Lord’s message and words, and to prepare the way for the Word Himself, Christ, our Saviour, who is also the Word of God.
Being chosen by the Lord, St. John the Baptist did not shy away in fear, but instead fully embraced the tasks that had been entrusted on him, and passionately went into his ministry, preaching to the people of God and repeatedly asking them to repent and return to the Lord who loves them. He worked tirelessly throughout his ministry in this world, and he did not show any fear even to the corrupt authority, the way he chastised King Herod for his improper relationship with the brother of his wife, Herodias.
He did not fear death while doing so, and faced death willingly when he was beheaded by the order of King Herod. In his humility he told his own disciples to follow Christ, and proclaimed to them the Messiah, with his words, “Behold the Lamb of God!”, and many who followed John then followed Christ in turn. He did not seek human glory and praise, and in his humility, told his disciples that while Christ increase, he must decrease.
He recognised his own human weakness and accepted the will of God without hesitation. He followed the Lord and obeyed His will. St. John the Baptist is indeed an example for all of us, how to be the true disciples of the Lord. When we are called by the Lord to be His servants, we must not give in to fear and doubt, but place all of our trust in the Lord, just the way that St. John had done, that we can truly give our all in the work for the sake of the Lord, and for the sake of God’s people, that is all mankind.
We should not give in to doubt as Zechariah, John’s father had done. It may be understandable because it may seem impossible for humans that an elderly woman should be able to bear a child. But to God, nothing is impossible. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we who have received the Good News of Christ, let us be renewed by the Holy Spirit of the Lord, and let us be courageous and passionate in spreading the Good News and salvation of the Lord, inspired by the example of St. John the Baptist.
Remember that God chose us and not we chose Him. He called us from the many, to be His disciples, and those of us who had accepted Him as their Lord and Saviour, gained salvation and life eternal. May God remain with us, bless us, and strengthen us in our task, that is to bring the Word of God to many in this world. St. John the Baptist, pray for us too. Amen.