• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐
    圣福若瑟神父

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动
    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Friday, 22 June 2018 14:19

The Birth of St John the Baptist - 2018

Written by Fr Larry Nemer SVD

Fr Larry Nemer SVD 150It is very unusual that a feast, other than a feast of Our Lord, would take the place of the Sunday liturgy.  But the Church from ancient times had such a high regard for John the Baptist that his birth and death were celebrated solemnly in the liturgy, even if these feasts occurred on a Sunday.  It was the Church’s way of acknowledging God’s love for God’s people by sending a precursor to prepare the way for the coming of the Word/Jesus Christ so that they might be open to hearing God’s message of love and salvation and of recognising the important person John was and the role that he played.In today’s readings we hear the story, as Luke told it, of John’s conception and birth and Isaiah’s prophecy that such a prophet would come.  But then John disappears from the Gospel until he begins preaching beyond the Jordan.  The scriptures do tell us that he grew up in the desert and lived a very ascetical life.   Scholars assume that he lived with a community of Essenes and there learned to read the scriptures, but this is not certain.

St John the Baptist 450John was a very charismatic preacher.  We know this because John made his way into the writings of the historians at that time – something that Jesus never did.  His preaching attracted crowds from all over the Middle East.  Sadducees, Pharisees, and Scribes – they were all there.  Even the occupying Roman soldiers came to hear him and asked him what they must do to be saved.  He called upon the Jews to “convert” and to return to living by the Covenant made with God and the law that was given them.  As a sign of their willingness to be renewed, they were baptised in the Jordan.  Just as the Covenant was re-established with the Jews after they had crossed the Jordan into their new lands, so the people were asked to renew the Covenant by once more passing through the Jordan.   It was a rite similar to what we Christians do each Easter Sunday, renewing our baptismal vows.

John was a very successful preacher and some thought that he might be the Messiah.  But John was always clear about his person and his role.  He knew he was not the Messiah.  His role was to prepare the way for the Lord.  He was surprised when Jesus came to him to be baptized, but he recognized that Jesus was the promised one when the Holy Spirit came upon Him at the baptism.  After that John told his disciples to follow Jesus, “the Lamb of God”.  John preached for only about three years but in that time he was very successful in calling people to renew themselves and to be open to the action of God. 

 Thousands of Jesus’ earliest followers had first been followers of John the Baptist.  It seems, from the Gospel readings, that Jesus did not “live up to” the expectations that John had of the Messiah, and for that reason he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if He was the One Who was to come or should they expect someone else.  Jesus’ reply was that they should tell John what they have seen and heard; He was indeed the Messiah but not the kind that John had been expecting.

This feast reminds us of two important challenges that we Christians face in our daily lives.  First of all, some of us are called only to be precursors, as was John – people who can help others to be open to the love and calling of Jesus.  We may not be able to take them to following Jesus ourselves, but we can help to prepare them to make that journey.  In many areas of the world today, missionaries can be no more than precursors of the Lord.  They prepare the way through acts of mercy, compassion and love.

Secondly, we are all called to bear witness to Jesus as John did.  We do not preach ourselves; we preach Jesus.  When the crowds wanted to recognise John as the Messiah he said about Jesus who had also begun to preach and baptise: He must increase, and I must decrease.  We are called to bear witness to Jesus, the outstanding expression of God’s love for us, and we must do this with our actions and not only with our words.  We have a “cloud of witnesses” who have done this before us to show us the way; we need only think of people like Francis of Assisi, Theresa of Calcutta, Mary McKillop and so many others. 

 May we also be like John the Baptist, in whatever role we are called to serve.

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