READINGS for 2009-06-24
Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist
The Lord… who formed me as his servant from the womb… – Isaiah 49:5
Eight-month-old Rica would point to my room and would direct her lola, who was my house help, to bring her to the pictures of Mama Mary and the Good Shepherd in my walls so she could kiss them. Afterwards, she would wave to the images of St. Joseph and other saints and the angels in my altar. That was her routine before bedtime.
At 10 months, she learned to open her arms in prayer every time we would sing Our Father. She learned this because her lola who attends daily Mass would always bring her along. At one year and three months, she could already make a crude sign of the cross and could motion an “amen” with her hands.
It’s never too early to teach someone about the Lord. The Lord said in Isaiah that He called us from birth. Wasn’t Mary formed as a child, too? And so with many other saints and martyrs. Cristy Galang
Was I well formed as a child? Have I become negligent of what they taught me? Or have I made up for what I lacked by practicing my faith well?
Make me a good servant, Lord, now that I have found You. Grant that I live out Your teachings and be a good example to others always.
It is our responsibility to toil in the work of the Kingdom of God to the point of exhaustion. Too often we see people toiling in the temporal fields of the world for a reward that passes away. This is vanity as there is nothing we can do to extend our lives beyond our death. The Book of Ecclesiastes tells us that all toil in the world is vanity; it is only through placing our toil in the context of the work of the Kingdom of God that it makes sense and can bring us our proper reward.
1 Hear me, O coastlands, listen, O distant peoples. The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. 2 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. 3 You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory. 4 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. 5 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! 6 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.
P S A L M
Psalm 139:1b-3. 13-14ab. 14c-15
R: I praise you for I am wonderfully made.
1 O LORD, you have probed me and you know me; 2 you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. 3 My journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar. (R) 13 Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. 14 I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works. (R) My soul also you knew full well; 15 nor was my frame unknown to you when I was made in secret, when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth. (R)
John the Baptist preached a message of repentance for our sins. All sinners of all time must have at least a little fear inside when they reflect on the wrong they have done. Those with any sense of justice would be asking themselves, ‘How will the just be vindicated in the end?’ The answer comes at first through repentance for our sins and then living for the Kingdom of God. John only had the first part of the message; it was not until Jesus arrived that the second aspect became evident to those who now turned their allegiance from John to Jesus.
22 In those days, Paul said: “God raised up David as their king; of him he testified, ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.’ 23 From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus. 24 John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; 25 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.’ 26 “My brothers, children of the family of Abraham, and those others among you who are God-fearing, to us this word of salvation has been sent.”
G O S P E L
John the Baptist spent a period of time in the desert honing his prayer skills and learning the path of obedience to God’s will that would make him the forerunner of Jesus, the one who prepares the way for the coming of the Messiah. There has perhaps been no more important role a human being has played (apart from the Mother of Jesus) in human history. Who would John have been without his obedience to God’s call? Probably another person who lived and died in Israel with little or no thought given to who he was or what he did. How much a little obedience to God can change a person! Think about it as you listen to God’s call for your life!
Luke 1:57-66. 80
57 When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” 61 But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” 62 So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. 63 He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. 65 Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. 66 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. 80 The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.
think:How much a little obedience to God can change a person!
God’s special verse/thought for me today________________
T O D A Y ’ S BLESSING LIST
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR 2 Samuel 13-16
precursor to Jesus
There are very few people who naturally desire to remain playing “second fiddle” to others all their lives. Most people desire to advance in their job situation for many reasons, not the least being that there is usually more money involved. I think we need to look at this tendency in the light of the life of John the Baptist and an understanding of the Servant Songs of YHWH we find in the prophet Isaiah’s writings. What is Christianity’s attitude to desiring to be the “top dog” so to speak?
John the Baptist knows that his ‘job’ or, better, his mission is to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus. Early in John’s Gospel, we hear him telling his disciples that he must decrease so that Christ may increase. Either John knows something that we do not, or he is an incredibly accommodating man. He is willing to step aside for Jesus and not afraid to tell others to do the same. This is an essential aspect of ministry in the Church — realizing that the work is God’s and not our own; that we are merely the instruments of His grace and mercy for ourselves and for others.
We even see this attitude in Jesus Himself. He sees His mission as doing whatever God the Father tells Him to do or say. Jesus, too, knows that working in the Kingdom of God is not about self-promotion but about the will of God and bringing the Good News of salvation to the ends of the earth. Sure, we can strive to advance our secular lives but let us ensure that the cost is not borne by our spiritual lives. No amount of earthly advancement will matter if we have not given our lives in surrender to the will of God and the work of His Kingdom. All will be mere shouting in the wind if we do not have faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ life is a witness to self-denial and concern for others. In this, John the Baptist is a more than worthy precursor and example. Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL
Do I live only for myself or are my eyes and mind firmly fixed on the Kingdom of God? How many distractions to this end still exist in my life?
Holy Spirit, help me to concentrate my powers and energies on living for the Kingdom of God and not the Kingdom of this world.
St. Simplicius, Bishop, pray for us.
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