Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
June 24, A.D. 2007
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Psalm 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15
Luke 1:57-66, 80
A reflection on today's Scripture:
Normally, we would be celebrating the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time this Sunday. But on June 24, the Church celebrates the Birth of John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus, whom God chose to prepare the people of Israel for the coming of the Messiah.
It isn't often that a saint's feast is more important than a Sunday's readings. And it's even more unusual to celebrate the birthday of a saint, rather than the date of death. St. Augustine tells us that this only happens when the person comes into the world sinless. There are only three—Jesus, his mother, Mary, and John the Baptist who qualify for this honor.
Some people this weekend will hear the readings from the Vigil Mass, and some will hear the readings from the Mass of the Day. I hope that you will check out both gospels, for one speaks of the angel telling Zechariah that his new son will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb. Only two others in past history had been so anointed—Jeremiah and Isaiah.
Like John the Baptist, they had been appointed to prophesy even before they were born! The passage from Luke's Gospel that will be read this Sunday tells us that Zechariah's power of speech was restored soon after John's birth. We also learn how amazed the people were at this sign of God's favor.
There is a strong connection between this feast and that of the Visitation of Mary to John's mother, Elizabeth, when she was five months pregnant. When the two mothers meet, they both feel the power of the Holy Spirit as John is freed from original sin (according to Augustine). At that very moment, both Elizabeth and Mary are made very aware of Jesus' divine nature. The destiny of both infants is bonded so closely in both tragedy and glory.
Indeed, the birthday of John the Baptist is a foreshadowing of the birth six months later of the Savior of the world. Both the penitential life and the powerful preaching of John were predestined by God the Father as a prelude for the mission of Jesus, the Savior of the world, who would free all people from the bondage of sin and God's displeasure.
Prayerful study of the readings for this feast helps us appreciate better the mysterious plan of God in preparing the world for the coming of His Son. The birth of John the Baptist marks the dual role of this great man—he is both the last of the Old Testament prophets, and the first of the New Testament, a voice crying out in the wilderness of his day, and echoing into the confusion of our own times.
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore
(pwhitmore29 at yahoo dot com)
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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