Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

(Isaiah 49:1-6; Acts 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-66.80)

John the Baptist has been called a figure of both the Old and the New Testament.  His parents are pious Jewish people awaiting the redemption of Israel.  John himself preaches the coming of the Messiah.  One is reminded of the Victorian poem saying: “Wandering between two worlds, one dead the other powerless to be born…”  This straddling two worlds may be found in today’s gospel.

John’s parents go through with the old custom of naming their child as he is presented for circumcision.  But contrary to the tradition, they do not choose the name of Zechariah, his father.  Rather they name him “John” as the angel Zechariah saw in a vision mandated.  “John” means “The Lord has shown favor.”  God has shown favor on Zechariah and Elizabeth as he had on Abraham and Sarah by granting them a child in their old age.  But more importantly, John becomes the herald of the greatest favor God has bestowed on anyone.  He announces to the world the coming of God’s only begotten Son.

Jesus brings us fully into a new age.  What we think of as novel – computers and other electronic gadgets – do not compensate for human defects.  Pride, ambition, greed, etc., are old vices that abound as much today as ever.  Jesus lifts us to a new plateau where we experience a renewal of heart.  He enables us to live free of vain desires to experience the joy of divine love.