JUNE 24, 2015 - Nativity of John the Baptist
Jeremiah 1:4-10; 1Peter 1:8-12; LUKE 1:5-17
"YOU WILL HAVE JOY AT HIS BIRTH." The fact that Elizabeth had been sterile for an extended period had been a source of anguish to her and of profound disappointment to Zachary. Childlessness was thought to be a disaster in those days and a certain stigma was attached to it in the general mind. In our times when birth control is so widely practiced having a large family is generally viewed as decidedly undesirable. As Pope Paul VI foresaw very clearly, such attitudes led to the widespread practice of abortion, and then to a neglect of marriage itself. A large number of persons now live together without contracting marriage. A further consequence is the increasing support for homosexual unions. Currently, these issues in our society have become political matters that have a prominent place in current debates on the coming presidential election.
But this Feast of John the Baptist's birth is a spontaneous joy to all concerned and remains that today, twenty centuries later. He was to become the herald of the Savior of the world, for he was chosen by God to be the one to identify Jesus as the One sent by God as Savior of his people. As the Gospel text states in the final statement of his role: "He will go before Him (the Lord) in the spirit and power of Elijah ... to prepare a people for the Lord." His witness continues to speak to us today.
In his first letter to the Churches, Saint Peter, opens by noting that his readers know and love the Savior. He does so, no doubt, based on his own experience of the Lord Jesus. The difference is that his readers believed although they had not been privileged to see him. This living, personal knowledge that we ourselves share with those to whom Peter was writing is shared no less with us today. We may or may not feel it, but in this communion we too share in the life he shares with us at this mass.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger