Thursday, 23 June 2022 : Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the occasion of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, which commemorates the moment when St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Lord and Saviour of the world, was born into this world, into the family of Zechariah and Elizabeth, his parents. Today we mark the moment when the Lord brought forth into this world the news and revelation of His salvation, of the long awaited salvation and Saviour that He has always promised and spoken about to His people. The Lord has reassured all of us that His love for us has always endured, and He will deliver unto us His providence and strength.

St. John the Baptist was born as a servant of God, called and chosen from even before he was conceived and born. His parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth were already relatively old and Elizabeth herself was likely already well-past childbearing age. It was at that time which God came to intervene and sent His Angel to announce to Zechariah first that he and his wife would have a son, the one whom God had called and chosen to be His servant, to be the one to fulfil the prophecy of the prophets, as we heard in our first reading today, from the Book of the prophet Isaiah. St. John the Baptist was the fulfilment of that prophecy, mentioning the coming of a servant who would speak of the coming of the one true Lord and Saviour of the world.

Through St. John the Baptist, who was miraculously conceived and born of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the Lord brought forth His Good News into this world, as He told them all through St. John that He would come soon, and because the salvation of this world was about to come, the people were also called through St. John the Baptist to return to the Lord, repenting from their sinful ways and wickedness. St. John the Baptist dedicated his whole life to God, and he spent his years preparing himself in the desert, and committing himself henceforth to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God.

He laboured for many years, preaching about the coming of the Messiah, calling of the people to turn back towards God, and going up even against the Pharisees and the religious authorities who questioned him and doubted his efforts, and he courageously carried out his ministry in serving God and His people, with all of his strength. Through him, many thousands and more became believers, and turned back towards God, seeking to be baptised by St. John the Baptist as a mark of their willingness to convert and to turn away from their sinful ways. St. John the Baptist revealed the Lord’s truth and works to them, and many more would come to believe in God, preparing the path for the eventual coming of the Lord Himself.

Not only that, but just as I am sure we are quite aware of through the life of St. John the Baptist, this great and courageous saint and servant of God also endured prison, suffering and even martyrdom in the midst of his mission, as he courageously spoke up against the adulterous behaviour and relationship that king Herod of Galilee had with his own brother’s wife, Herodias. Herodias in particular held grudge against St. John the Baptist, and she manipulated the king to order the execution of St. John the Baptist, who had by then been imprisoned. Hence, that was how St. John the Baptist came to the end of his mission in this world, after many years of faithful service.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice today in this celebration of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, rejoicing in the memory of the birth of this great saint and servant of God, let us also therefore remember everything that he had done for the sake of God’s people, the dedication and zeal with which he had carried out his mission, in embracing the call and the mission that God had entrusted to him, and which he carried out fervently and humbly, as when he was asked if he was the Messiah, he immediately told them that he was not the Messiah, but rather merely the one who prepared the way for the coming of the Saviour.

Let us all discern our own path in life, and see how each one of us can be inspired to follow in the footsteps of St. John the Baptist, in all that he had done as a faithful disciple of the Lord. Each and every one of us as Christians have been called to various missions and ministries, given the opportunities and the talents, the gifts of abilities and other means to reach out to one another, and to proclaim God’s truth, love and hope to our world today. Every one of us should be inspired by the examples that St. John the Baptist has shown us, and we should walk in his footsteps as faithful disciples of the Lord.

May the Lord continue to guide each and every one of us to be ever more faithful and committed to Him, and may He continue to bless us and strengthen us with faith, such that we may continue to serve Him in our own various capacities and opportunities with zeal and dedication, inspired by what his saints, especially that of St. John the Baptist, had shown us. May God bless us all and our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 23 June 2022 : 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, 23 June 2022 : 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, 23 June 2022 : 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, 23 June 2022 : 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.”