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Monday, 6/24/2019, The Nativity of John the Baptist

The Prophecy of the Father Preparing the Son

First Reading Commentary: Isaiah 49:1-6

Why is today’s prophecy from Isaiah, which is all about the coming of Christ, significant as we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist? One reason is because in Isaiah’s prophecy, we see the Son being prepared by the Father and in the mission of John the Baptist, we see the way being prepared for the coming of Christ. In so doing, John the Baptist also prepared the way for the institution of the Sacrament of Baptism.

One may ask, “How is it that John the Baptist prepared the way for the institution of the Sacrament of Baptism when he baptized people himself?” John the Baptist proclaimed repentance and being cleansed of sin by being baptized with water. When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, the Trinity was present as the heavens opened up, the Spirit descended upon Him like a dove and the Father spoke saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16 Jesus would later institute the Sacrament of Baptism by instructing the Apostles to go out and preach to all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19

John baptized with water and water is used in baptisms today. The difference is that in the Sacrament of Baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit in the same way that the Spirit descended upon Jesus when He was baptized. Therefore, John the Baptist did not institute the Sacrament of Baptism but he did prepare the way for it.

In his prophecy, the word “me” is not Isaiah himself but Jesus. Isaiah describes the Annunciation as from Mary’s womb, Christ is given His name. Luke 1:26-35 Isaiah also describes Revelation when he says, “He made of me a sharp-edged sword…He made me a polished arrow.” Revelation 6:1-4  

Even the Mystical Body of Christ is prophesized by Isaiah when he says, “You are my servant…Israel, through whom I show my glory.” In other words, “You are My people and My people are You.” The Son became one of us and shares Himself with us and becomes a part of us in the Eucharist. In turn, all those who believe in the Son are God’s people and members of the One Body which is the Mystical Body.

Christ emptied Himself and gave His life for our salvation so that we could be with God in heaven. Christ was crucified for our sins but Christ also defeated death with His Glorious Resurrection. All of this is prophesized as well by Isaiah today.

Finally, Isaiah says, “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Through Isaiah’s prophecy, the Father is declaring that the Son is the light of the earth.

But notice the wording in regards to salvation. Keep in mind that it is the Father speaking and He says, “…my salvation…” We do not think of the Father as the Savior but this prophecy reminds us that He is. Why? Because there is but one God! Three persons but One God.

We think of the Father as the Creator, the Son as the Savior and the Holy Spirit as our Advocate and that is all correct. But because the Trinity is not three separate gods but three persons in one God; we were created, saved and we are constantly being helped by all three persons at the same time. We don’t think of it that way because our human minds cannot understand the mystery of the Trinity. But we are truly blessed because that is the way that it is and it was for this same God that John the Baptist prepared the way.

The King and the Heralder

Second Reading Commentary: Acts 13:22-26

St. Paul proclaimed in Acts of the Apostles that Christ was the Savior who had been sent for the salvation of Abraham’s descendants and everyone else who was God-fearing. In other words, Christ came for the salvation of all who believe in Him with faith and fear of the Lord (Awe and Wonder).

In making his proclamation, Paul reminded the people that Jesus was a descendant of David. About David God said, “I have found David…a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.” So, at the will of God, David was anointed king.

Can God say what He said about David about us? Are we after God’s own heart and do we; carry out God’s every wish? Some of us may feel that we can never carry out God’s wish as David did. But we are wrong because like the rest of us, David was a sinner. But David had great faith in God and gave God limitless praise and glory. We see this throughout the book of Psalms.

We should consider ourselves to be in good company and indeed we are in good company if like David, we give all praise and glory to God and try our best to follow God’s commandments. God knows that we are not perfect and that we will sin. But if we try to be like David by loving God, repenting for our sins and trying our best to dedicate ourselves to God’s will; we will find favor with God.

Paul went on to proclaim that John the Baptist heralded the coming of Christ and proclaimed that he was not the Christ himself. There were those who thought that John the Baptist was the one who was coming from God so John proclaimed, “I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.” With those words, John demonstrated that he was very much like Christ because of his great humility.

John the Baptist could have very easily allowed himself to be put on a pedestal but he did not make that mistake. All too often, people will accept praise for the work of others. All too often some preachers will allow themselves to be placed on a pedestal. Sometimes a church congregation will want to place their pastor on a pedestal.

In heralding the coming of Christ, John the Baptist also gave the people a sample of the personality of Christ. John the Baptist set the tone for what Christ would teach us about being humble. When we feel like exercising our pride by accepting undue praise, we should stop and consider this: if John the Baptist could show such great humility in heralding the coming of Christ and if Christ could show such humility throughout His life, and He is God the Son, then surely, we can be humble ourselves. We are not the great John the Baptist and we surely are not worthy to unfasten the sandals of the feet of Christ.

However, we are all blessed to be saved by Christ and today; we celebrate the one who announced to the world that the Savior was coming.

Paving the Way for the King and His Kingdom

Gospel Commentary Luke: 1:57-66, 80

The Nativity of John the Baptist is a miracle filled with blessings from God. It was a miracle because Elizabeth was beyond child baring years. But it was God’s will that she would be the mother of John the Baptist so her relatives and neighbors rejoiced with her.

When Zechariah was told by God that his wife would give birth, he did not believe it and because he doubted God’s word, God took Zechariah’s speech away. When the time came for the child to be named, Elizabeth said, “He will be called John.”  But the people felt that such a name was inappropriate so they made gestures to Zechariah asking what he wanted the boy to be called. Zechariah asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name.” Immediately, Zechariah began to speak giving praise and glory to God.

With the miracle of John’s birth, we see the awesome power of God. We see that nothing is beyond God. We also learn that we should never doubt God’s word because all things are possible with Him and only those people who have faith in God will find favor with God. With Zechariah, we also see a connection to the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Luke 15:8-32

The Prodigal Son squandered all of his father’s money and after realizing his sin, went home and said to his father, “I have sinned against heaven and against you.” The father embraced his son and gave everything back to him. This is what happened to Zechariah who realized his sin, and from his heart, gave praise and glory to God for blessing him and Elizabeth. This is why when given the tablet, Zechariah wrote that his son's name would be John while continuing to give praise and glory and for this; God gave everything back to him.

Jesus would give us the Parable of the Prodigal Son years later so the people could not have seen the connection. One of the many things that we learn from the Prodigal Son is that the way that he is treated by his father is the way that God treats all of us. Like everyone else, Zechariah was a prodigal child of God and how fitting it was that this message would come with the birth of John the Baptist who paved the way and announced the coming of Christ to the world.

The people did not know the parable but they did know that the hand of the Lord was with John the Baptist. So, they took it to heart and spread the news of the event throughout the countryside of Judea and proclaimed, “What, then, will this child be?” They did not understand what had happened but they knew that all of the events surrounding the birth of John the Baptist were great works of God and they were able to spread the news because of their faith. They did not know it at the time but they were demonstrating one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit: Fear of the Lord—Awe and Wonder of the Lord.

Like the relatives and neighbors of Elizabeth and Zechariah, we are sometimes in awe and wonder of the Lord without realizing that we are. Even those who claim to be atheists find themselves to be in awe and wonder without knowing it or accepting it. Think about how often they find themselves in awe and wonder over nature and the cosmos. They are using one of the fruits of the Spirit without even realizing that they are.

Finally, Luke tells us that John the Baptist was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel. In other words, John stayed in the desert until it was his time which is when he began his active ministry. That was no accident but it is very significant because it is a connection to the Israelites, to Christ and to all of us.

The Israelites wandered in the desert and they were tested for forty years before reaching the promised land of Jerusalem. Christ went off into the desert to be tempted by the devil before He began His active ministry. In this life, we are wandering here on earth which is our desert as we are constantly being tested and tempted. The Promised Land that we seek is the Kingdom of Heaven.

We should not look at the Nativity of John the Baptist and limit our vision to the fact that he paved the way for the coming of Christ baptizing people for the repentance of their sins. There are similarities to the birth of John the Baptist and the birth of Christ. There are connections to the mission of John the Baptist and the mission of Christ. John the Baptist did more than herald the coming Christ. John the Baptist heralded the announcement of the New Covenant that Christ made with all of us: the promise of the Kingdom of Heaven. That is what we really celebrate today.

Reading 1          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 139:1-3, 13-15

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.

Reading 2          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.

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The Descent of the Holy Spirit
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Paragraph 767 "When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that he might continually sanctify the Church."174 Then "the Church was openly displayed to the crowds and the spread of the Gospel among the nations, through preaching, was begun."175 As the "convocation" of all men for salvation, the Church in her very nature is missionary, sent by Christ to all the nations to make disciples of them.176

The Holy Spirit came to Mary and the Apostles as tongues of fire.

Saint of the Day

Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

God revealed to Isaiah that He is our Creator and our Savior.

Canticle Of Zechariah

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; He has come to His people and set them free.

He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour, Born of the house of His servant David.

Through His holy prophets He promised of old That He would save us from our enemies, From the hands of all who hate us.

He promised to show mercy to our fathers And to remember His holy Covenant.

This was the oath He swore to our father Abraham: To set us free from the hands of our enemies, Free to worship Him without fear, Holy and righteous in His sight All the days of our life.

You, My child shall be called The prophet of the Most High, For you will go before the Lord to prepare His way, To give his people knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins.

In the tender compassion of our Lord The dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness And the shadow of death, And to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning.
is now, and will be forever.


St. Paul proclaimed that John the Baptist heralded the coming of Christ who is our Savior.

A man was sent from God, whose name was John. He came to testify to the light, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.

Alleluia see Luke 1:76

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

You, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

When the time came, Zechariah, remembering what the angel of the Lord had told him, wrote on a tablet, "John is his name." In Hebrew, John means  Jehohanan, i.e. "Jahweh hath mercy or God has mercy.

And the people knew that the hand of the Lord was with John.

Other Saints This Week

Sacred Heart of Jesus

St. Cyril of Alexandria
(378 – June 27, 444)

The Solemnity of Saints
Peter and Paul

St. Paul is
Patron Saint of: Greece

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