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6/24/18 Nativity of St. John the Baptist - Fr. Reggie

The birth of St John the Baptist reminds us that God is active in this world. Two thousand years after his covenant with Abraham, God sends John, the last and greatest prophet, to his chosen people. A thousand years after his solemn promise to King David, which the Second Reading reminded us of, God sends a forerunner to announce the arrival of the new, everlasting King. Seven centuries after Isaiah's Messianic prophecy, God sends St John to set the stage for the promised Messiah.

St John received the baton of the gospel from those chosen by God to advance his plan of salvation up to the time of Christ, and he handed on that baton to Christ's very first disciples, who took it, washed it in the saving blood of Christ our Redeemer, and then handed it on yet again, to the Church, which has kept passing it forward ever since.

The birth of St John the Baptist is like a huge billboard that sums up the whole history of salvation and says: "God hasn't forgotten about us, and he never will forget about us!"

This is the truly amazing thing about God - not just that he exists (that's self-evident, which is why children have to be taught to be atheists), but that he is so interested in our lives and so active in the world, that he cares about sinners and wants to save them, that, as the First Reading puts it, he calls each of us from our birth, and while we are still in our mother's womb, he gives us our name - that is, he knows us through and through and gives each one of us a unique mission in life.

Yes, God is active in the world, through his John-the-Baptists, through his messengers, through us.

The mute button is ubiquitous in our means of receiving information today digitally, but unlike pause, we know something is still being transmitted: we’re just not listening to it. We usually mute something because something more important is happening that requires our attention. Zachariah had not put the world or his rationalism on “mute” enough, so when the angel came and told him something incredible would happen, he balked. The angel put him on mute for his own good, so he could focus on what was going on: God’s plan of salvation. Sometimes we have to “mute” ourselves and listen more to what the Lord is trying to say.

What happened to Zachariah reminds us that faith implies work. It requires daily work by spending time each day in silent interior conversation with God and practicing charity to all we meet. It requires weekly work by nourishing ourselves on the sacrament of the Eucharist. It requires periodic work by going to Confession and cleansing ourselves of our sins. It involves faith in Someone, not something: when you put your faith in someone, it is give and take—you don’t expect something for nothing, although, more often than not, God gives us so much without expecting anything in return. Signs will come, but they’re always an invitation to go deeper in our faith: God always puts more faith in us than we do in him – he always gives us another chance. Let’s take it.

 

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