Monday, 24 June 2019 : 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 a special occasion in the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. St. John the Baptist is one of the special saints of the Church, in the important role he played in the history of our salvation being the one to proclaim and herald the coming of the Messiah of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ. St. John the Baptist therefore has this celebration of his birth or Nativity, which commemorates the moment when he was born into the world.

St. John the Baptist has such an important role, that God prepared him and his own coming in such a marvellous and miraculous way, as prophesied by the prophets of old and by what was described in the accounts of the Gospels. It was about him that the prophets had spoken that he had been called to be God’s servant from his mother’s womb, as how his coming had been proclaimed by the Angel of God.

The Angel spoke to Zechariah, the father of St. John the Baptist, speaking of how his son would become a great and dedicated servant of God, the last of the prophets and messengers of God with one very important role, that is to proclaim the coming of God’s salvation and to prepare the people for the coming of this salvation through his own works and ministry among the people of God.

St. John the Baptist was the one who called the people to repent from their sins, be baptised in the waters of the Jordan, as the commitment for them to turn away from their old sinfulness and to be prepared to welcome the coming of God’s kingdom and His salvation. But he also made it very clear to the people who followed him, to his own disciples and to all those who asked it of him, that he was not the Messiah of God.

St. John the Baptist had a lot of following and he was very charismatic and influential. People came to him from all over Judea, Samaria and Galilee and perhaps even beyond seeking him for them to be baptised by him. Had he desired to claim everything he had done for his own glory and benefit, he could have done it easily, as what some of the people at that time had done.

There were some people at the time who claimed to be the Messiah of God, and gathered following among the people and rebelled against the Romans and the authorities. But as they were not the true Messiah, their rebellions and uprisings failed terribly. St. John the Baptist did not choose that path, even though he could have easily done so. Instead, he obeyed the Lord faithfully and committed himself totally to what he has been called to do.

And he humbly accepted his role, even when he himself was eclipsed by the coming of the One Who is the Messiah, Our Lord Jesus Christ. He revealed to the people and to his own disciples Who the Lord Jesus truly is, and let some of his own disciples to follow the Lord instead. When his disciples complained that everyone was going to the Lord and that He became increasingly even more popular than him, St. John the Baptist said humbly that it was only right that his Master increases while he, who is only the servant, decreases.

St. John the Baptist dedicated his whole life to serve the Lord, and that means even laying down his own life for the sake of God. When he opposed and stood up against the wickedness of king Herod and his adultery, he was arrested and put in prison, and by the mechanism of Herodias who hated him, St. John the Baptist was beheaded in prison, and therefore died a martyr’s death, for the sake of the Lord and His glory.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, truly we can see in St. John the Baptist a great saint and role model for our own lives. We should heed his examples, his call for us to repent from our past sinfulness and to embrace faithfully the way of the Lord. We should model our own lives and faith based on this holy servant of God’s own faith and dedication, his obedience to the will of God and his humility in service.

Let us all on this Solemnity celebrating the moment of this great saint’s birth recommit ourselves and our own lives to the Lord to honour the memory of the faithful St. John the Baptist, modelling our own lives after his own. Let us all draw ever closer to God and be more faithful with each and every days of our lives. May God bless us all and may He empower us all to live faithfully according to His will, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 24 June 2019 : 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.

Monday, 24 June 2019 : 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.

Monday, 24 June 2019 : 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.

Monday, 24 June 2019 : 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.”

Thursday, 3 January 2019 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 29-34

At that time, the next day John saw Jesus coming towards him, and said, “There is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world! It is He of Whom I said : A Man comes after me, Who is already ahead of me, for He was before me. I myself did not know Him, but I came baptising to prepare for Him, so that He might be revealed in Israel.”

And John also gave this testimony, “I saw the Spirit coming down on Him like a dove from heaven, and resting on Him. I myself did not know Him, but God, Who sent me to baptise, told me, “You will see the Spirit coming down, and resting, on the One Who baptises with the Holy Spirit.’ Yes, I have seen! And I declare that this is the Chosen One of God!”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus)

Luke 2 : 21-24

On the eighth day, the circumcision of the Baby had to be performed; He was named Jesus, the Name the Angel had given Him before He was conceived. When the day came for the purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord : Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God.

And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the Law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 19-28

This was the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites to ask him, “Who are you?” John recognised the truth, and did not deny it. He said, “I am not the Messiah.”

And they asked him, “Then who are you? Elijah?” He answered, “I am not.” They said, “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Tell us who you are, so that we can give some answer to those who sent us. How do you see yourself?”

And John said, quoting the prophet Isaiah, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness : Make straight the way of the Lord!”

Those who had been sent were Pharisees; and they put a further question to John, “Then why are you baptising, if you are not the Messiah, or Elijah, or the Prophet?” John answered, “I baptise you with water, but among you stands One Whom you do not know; although He comes after me, I am not worthy to untie the strap of His sandal.”

This happened in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptising.