Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-6
Hear me, O coastlands,
listen, O distant peoples.
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.
Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
that Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 139:1B-3, 13-14AB, 14C-15
R. (14) I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
O LORD, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R. I praise you for I am wonderfully made.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
My soul also you knew full well;
nor was my frame unknown to you
When I was made in secret,
when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.
R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
Second Reading: Acts 13:22-26
In those days, Paul said:
“God raised up David as king;
of him God testified,
I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;
he will carry out my every wish.
From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise,
has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance
to all the people of Israel;
and as John was completing his course, he would say,
‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.
Behold, one is coming after me;
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’
“My brothers, sons of the family of Abraham,
and those others among you who are God-fearing,
to us this word of salvation has been sent.”
Gospel: Luke 1:57-66, 80
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?”
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.
Today we honor Saint John the Baptist, a truly incredible saint. Formed in the elderly Elizabeth’s barren womb. Gave up the trappings of the world to point people toward the Messiah. Died while continuing to witness to the coming of the Kingdom.
What can I do that compares? I live a pretty comfortable life, even by American standards. The only bug I ever ate was in a Mexican candy. And I probably won’t be martyred any time soon.
But the truth of the matter is, each of our lives and faith can be as miraculous and inspired as Saint John’s, no matter how they look on paper. We have been formed by the hand of God—fearfully and wonderfully made. We have been raised up to testify to the glory of the Lord. Our lives are meant to be lived in witness to the One who is greater than each of us could ever be. We are called to grow and become strong in spirit.
God has such great plans for each of us! We may never see this fruit on Earth as we remain arrows in the quiver of the Lord. We might feel as though we are toiling in vain, blind to the graces that God is working through us in the world. But remember that our recompense is not of this world.
Saint John the Baptist remained humble in this life. He was never rich, he was clapped in prison, and he suffered at the hands of the world. But through paving the path for Christ, he was truly made glorious in the sight of the Lord. If we keep our eyes fixed on heaven and live to reflect the glory of God, we will find that great reward.
Every day, in every age, the Lord calls forth saints. Take a moment to reread today’s passage from Isaiah, imagining yourself in the place of the prophet.
Brigid Hogan loves the view of the Washington Monument from her apartment, her standing desk, the Green Bay Packers, and a good mystery. She tolerates taking the Metro to the office, where she works as a communications consultant. You can find out more about her here.