First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-6
Listen to me, O coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away.And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God.” And now the LORD says, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength –he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 139:1-3, 13-15
O LORD, thou hast searched me and known me! Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up; thou discernest my thoughts from afar.Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! Thou knowest me right well; my frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.
Second Reading: Acts 13:22-26
And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king; of whom he testified and said, `I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will. Of this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. Before his coming John had preached a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, `What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’ “Brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you that fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation.
Gospel: Luke 1:57-66, 80
Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechari’ah after his father, but his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.”And they said to her, “None of your kindred is called by this name.”And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all marveled. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him. And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.
Ladies, get ready. Today is the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist. But it’s not just about one man.
It’s all about women, too.
The prophet Isaiah, the Psalm, and the Gospel all evoke women’s essential role in helping to bring salvation history to the prophetic point of Saint John the Baptist’s preparing the way of the Lord. Today’s Scripture showers us with scenes of pregnancy (“thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb”), birth (“Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered”), and supportive sisterhood (“they rejoiced with her”).
But today’s readings don’t simply speak to women who are biological mothers. God’s Word is for all of us—every single person who is called to help build up the Kingdom of God: “The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name . . .[He] formed me from the womb to be his servant.”
The reason we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist? It’s not simply to commemorate a feast for Christ’s cousin. It’s because today’s solemnity speaks to the power of God’s plan for humanity and the intricate preparation of every part of God’s story.
Every one of us is beloved by God. Every one of us was formed by God’s love. Every one of us was called by God before we were even born.
So today—whether you are a daughter, a mother, a granddaughter, or a grandmother, whether you are struggling with your vocation or set firmly on your path—you are called by God. Like John the Baptist, you have a prophetic word to speak and a unique role to play in the world.
You are God’s own, as the woman you are today.
Take a moment to pray for the courage to follow God’s call in your life right now. Remember to draw from the strength of all the women who have helped bring you to this day—friends, family, mentors, and teachers.
Rest secure in your belovedness, fearfully and wonderfully made by your Creator, the God of Love who knit you together in the depths of the dark. The Lord has called you.
Laura Kelly Fanucci is a mother, writer, and theological researcher. She and her husband are raising three little boys in the suburban wilds of Minnesota. You can find out more about her here.