JUNE 24. Birth of John the Baptist. Lk 1. 57-66, 80
The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy.
Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. ‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘But no one in your family has that name’, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ they wondered. And indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.
Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel.
I like to see this day as one that deals with the fact each and every one of us has a vocation or mission from God, and that all of us share in Christ’s Mission; - in the way God determined before each of us was born.
This is a truth we often “overlook” because we do not like the responsibility of a God-given mission; - but this does not alter the fact that each of us has been given one; - nor does it remove our responsibility to be faithful to our individual vocation.
The mission of Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, and Our Lady were central to the Mission of the Church and of special importance, but their Mission on earth, and our own share in one common characteristic and responsibility; - the seeking out and fulfillment of God’s Will!
This simple requirement was at the heart of John the Baptist’s Mission, just as it is in each of our own vocations and, once we acknowledge this truth, the meaning and purpose of our life becomes clear, and is immediately enhanced.
Yes, the angel appeared to the Virgin Mary and asked her if she was willing to obey the Will of God; - and an angel announced the conception of John the Baptist; - but the involvement of the angel was not a critical aspect of their mission. What was important was the way they were subsequently faithful to the Will of God!
What we find in nearly all vocations is they involve a process of maturing and purification after birth that involves many years of discernment within an environment determined by God, in which the individual and the “hand of God” work in unison.
This “discernment time” is critically important as it involves rejecting the values of the world while giving time to Prayer and the discernment of the Will of God; - something Christ did during the thirty years of his hidden life; - and John did during many years in the desert.
All of us have to go through this process of Prayer and Discernment, after which we have to be faithful to our God-given vocation; - supported by the Sacraments, Prayer, and the virtues taught and lived by Christ; - particularly Faith, Hope, Charity, Humility and Compassion!
Gospel Acclamation cf.Lk1:76
You, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways.