June 24, 2016

John the Baptist's birth

June 24, 2016:  Birth of St. John the Baptist

See some 20 connections with today?
Legend below

Listen*

  • John/ Winter (Medical Mission Sisters) (gospel) [leadsheet and note]
Vigil
    Animate
  • Jer 1:4-10  Lord / Jeremiah:  "Before you were born, I formed and dedicated you and appointed you prophet." / “I'm too young!” / “Don't say that or be afraid; I'm with you.  You'll go where I send you and speak what I command.  I set you over nations to tear down and build."
  • Ps 71:1-4a, 5-6ab, 15ab, 17  "Since my mother’s womb, you have been my strength."  Hear, rescue, and deliver me; you're my hope and trust.  I'll declare your justice and salvation.
  • 1 Pt 1:8-12  Though you haven't seen Jesus, you love and believe in him and rejoice as you attain the salvation that prophets searched for and investigated...
  • Lk 1:5-17  Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous God's eyes but old and childless.  Angel to Zechariah:  “Your prayer has been heard.  Elizabeth will bear you a son; name him John.  Many will rejoice; he'll be great in God's sight, filled with the Spirit.  He'll turn children of Israel to the Lord and prepare a people fit for the Lord.
Daytime
  • Is 49:1-6  The Lord called and formed me:  "You're my servant.  Through you Jacob and Israel will be gathered to me.  I'll make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth."
  • Ps 139:1b-3, 13-15  "I praise you, for I am wonderfully made."  You've formed me and know me....
    "His name is John" (Animate)
  • Acts 13:22-26  Paul:  “God raised up David as king and brought to Israel a savior, Jesus, from his descendants.  John heralded him by proclaiming a baptism of repentance, saying, ‘One is coming after me; I'm not worthy to unfasten his sandals.’  This word of salvation has been sent to you....”
  • Lk 1:57-66, 80  Elizabeth gave birth; her neighbors and relatives rejoiced.  They were going to name him Zechariah, but she said, “No:  John.” / “But none of your relatives has that name.”  They made signs asking his father; he wrote, “John,” all were amazed, his mouth was opened, he spoke blessing God, fear came upon the neighbors, and everyone talked about it:  “What will this child be?  God is with him."  The child grew and became strong in spirit...
Reflect
    • Creighton:  This celebration, known as Little Christmas, begins with "A man sent by God came to testify to the light, to prepare a people for the Lord." The 1st reading starts as if spoken by John the Baptist, but it's about the dignity of the people of God, being prepared to make the One God known. God's glory will be seen through the Servant Israel.  Israel’s role is to share their faith, to spread to the nations.  The little will extend God’s love.  John longed for the Christ as Israel did; both became agents of revelation.  Paul explains that from David’s descendants the the Savior would appear.  Luke says John knew who he was and was not.  All four Gospels speak of John and his role in preparing Israel and the gospels' readers to accept Jesus as Messiah and John as his forerunner.
    Nativity of Saint John the Baptist/ Gentileschi
    Today we remember his birth.  Jews celebrated birth into the People of God at circumcision.  Luke uses two announcements by an angel to two unsuspecting persons of faith:  Zechariah and Mary.  Their sons were born into faithful families and learned obedience to God by being obedient to the Law.
    Neighbors and relatives marvel when John is named, as shepherds will at Jesus' birth.  Wondering, being perplexed, doubting, and challenging are healthy responses to God's work in and around us.  Listen to the invitations of the Gospel, our Church, and God, and we pray with our excuses, doubts, fears, speechless hearts, and waiting minds to see what else God will do with and through us.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Decreasing returns":  Augustine noted we celebrate John the Baptist's birthday after the summer equinox, when daylight begins to lessen in the northern hemisphere, and we celebrate Jesus' birthday after the winter equinox, when daylight begins to increase; he connected this with John's statement, "[Jesus] must increase, while I must decrease."  May there be more of Jesus in my life, less of me, till I can say, "No longer I live, but Christ lives in me."  As you decrease and lose your life, consumed by the fire of God, you won't be obliterated but will discover yourself.  When you "throw away" your life for the Lord, he'll "make you a light to the nations" so his "salvation may reach the ends of the earth."  When John directed his disciples to Jesus, away from himself, the Lord lifted John up to heaven, and we still celebrate him.
    • Passionist:  'John' (Yochanan) = Hebrew Yahweh ('God') + khä·nan ('gracious'):  God is gracious!  John the Baptist can strike us as scary.  “He told the crowds, 'You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?'"  He cleared the path of sin and opened the door to God.  God's holiness demands conversion.  With Pope Francis' encouragement of God’s mercy, we must be attentive to Jesus' first sermon:  “The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”   To preach God's mercy means eventually to remove the virus of sin.  We sinners can indeed be touched by God’s grace before our conversion but run the risk of losing God’s gift by not turning away from sin.  John the Baptist leapt with joy at the presence of the unborn Jesus.  From his birth he experienced the ecstasy of Jesus.  John’s ministry was one of the good news of God’s care for the human race; even his name means God is kind.   But salvation ultimately means the destruction of sin.  “Call his name Jesus; he will save his people from their sins.”  We, like John, must try to disinfect the virus of sin and clear the path for God’s mercy.
      The Birth of John the Baptist/ Tintoretto
    • DailyScripture.net:  "The hand of the Lord was with him":  John was named from above, and Elizabeth was determined to see God glorified through him.  'John' means "the Lord is gracious."  In the births of John and Jesus, God's grace breaks forth into a broken, hopeless world.  John’s miraculous birth shows God's mercy and favor in preparing his people for its Savior's coming.  John's passion was to point others to Christ and God's kingdom.  John was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb.  The Spirit in John made him the forerunner of the Messiah.  The Spirit led John into the wilderness to be tested and grow in the word of God.  John broke prophetic silence by speaking God's word, chiding God's people for their unfaithfulness, and trying to awaken repentance in them.  When God acts to save us, he fills us with his Spirit and makes our faith come alive.  The Lord is always ready to renew us in faith, hope, and love and to make our life an offering to God.
    • Universalis:  John the Baptist (only saint other than Mary and Joseph to have two feast days), prophet from before his birth, leaping in the womb to announce Jesus, proclaimed the fulfillment of all prophecies, and so his own obsolescence.  With courage he spread the news that he was the least in the kingdom of heaven.
    Dress legend*
    • 'Hand' tie pin:  the Lord extended his hand to Jeremiah (1st reading v); "rescue me from the hand of the wicked" (psalm v); "the hand of the Lord was with [John]" (gospel d)
    • 'Plant' pin:  "I set you ... to build and to plant" (1st reading v)
    • 'Rock' tie pin:  "You're my rock and fortress" (psalm v)

    Opening the Archdiocese of Atlanta Door of Mercy
    at The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
    (It has a lock, but it's unlocked!)
    • 'Eyeball' pin:  Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God's eyes; John will be great in the sight of the Lord (gospel v)
    • 'Angel' pin:  An angel appeared and spoke to Zechariah (gospel v)
    • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  John will be filled with the Holy Spirit (gospel v)
    • 'Hearts with arrows' suspenders:  "He made me a sharpened arrow" (1st reading d); John will go before the Lord to turn the children of Israel's hearts (gospel v); I found David a man after my own heart (2nd reading d); all who heard these things [re naming of John and restoration of Zechariah's speech] took them to heart (gospel d)
    • 'Phone' tie bar (forgot to pack; see here):  The Lord 'called' me from birth (1st reading d)
    • 'Sword' tie pin:  The Lord made of me a sharp-edged sword (1st reading d)
    • Sandals (not shown):  "I'm not worthy to unfasten his sandals" (2nd reading d)
    • 'Children around the world' tie:  John will turn the children of Israel to the Lord (gospel v); I set you over the nations (1st reading v); I'll make you a light to the nations (1st reading d)
    • White and red shirt, white socks, 'decapitated skeleton' tie pin:  white for today's celebration, red and pin for John's martyrdom

    *:  v=vigil reading, d=daytime reading