Thursday, June 21, 2007

Reflections on the Readings by Dennis Hankins

Solemnity of The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

June 24, 2007 Year C

(12th Sunday In Ordinary Time/4th Sunday After Pentecost)

Reflections on the Readings by Dennis Hankins

Isaiah 49:1-6; Psalm 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15

Acts 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-66, 80

Theme: Embracing Your Destiny

Because of our baptism, we are called to embrace our faith in Jesus Christ.

Elizabeth had been barren all of her married life. It is little wonder then everyone expected her newly born son to be named after his father. In human history it is anticipated that the first-born son will extend the name, the beliefs and the destiny of the family. No one would have given a second thought to Zechariah's first-born son carrying forward both his father's name and his father's heart. Such is the legacy and destiny the friends and families of Zechariah and Elizabeth anticipated in the hill country of Judea.

Both mother and father of John knew their son was to embrace a greater destiny. Elizabeth, who was called barren, new in her heart the reason her son leaped in her womb in the presence of the Mother of her Lord. John's destiny was linked to the destiny of that one nestled just under Mary's heart. Elizabeth's son would declare, "Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." Mary's son would be 'led away as a sheep to the slaughter.' Destiny. Each son embraced the calling they had from their mother's womb. John prepared the way of salvation; Jesus is the way of salvation.

In circumcision, John's future life and work were brought into focus. It was a destiny he learned to embrace growing up in the love and the tradition of the faith of his father's house.

Because of our baptism we are called to embrace our faith in Jesus Christ. Our baptism occurs usually within a few days to a few weeks after birth. So after our first birth we participate in a second birth. From the womb of the Church, through baptism, we enter into another kingdom that is not of this world. And because of the faith of mom and dad, we learn to embrace our calling as children of God growing up in the love and the tradition of our Father's house.

This makes our walk with the Lord very personal. No one can be a disciple of Jesus for us by way of substitution. No one can obey the Lord's calling on us for us. But personal discipleship can never mean private discipleship. Embracing the understanding of what it means to be in Christ because of baptism causes us to reflect on how we will in the world honor Christ in us. Such is the understanding found in Christ's own words, "He who denies me before men, him will I deny before my Father in heaven."

St. John the Baptist lived every moment aware that he had been called from birth. Every ounce of our being should shine with the love we received at Baptism. Our baptism was not about Mom or Dad, Grandmothers or Grandfathers or the dinner that followed or the party that was given. All of this is wonderful and such an event warrants great celebration. But first and always, our baptism witnessed our being brought out of Darkness and into marvelous Light. And the rest of our days should be spent in growing in the grace we have received and the knowledge we must have concerning Jesus the Christ.

As the result of Baptism, we must not allow ourselves to ever be content. Christian life and witness must flow out of our union with Christ. If we do not find ourselves freely giving what we have freely received, we are living below the meaning of Baptism. Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven."

The meaning of the Church is defined by how each one us let's our light shine. There certainly wasn't any doubt about what St. John the Baptist thought about Jesus the Christ. May no one have cause to doubt who Jesus Christ is because we kept our faith in Jesus Christ to ourselves. Like St. John the Baptist, let us testify, 'Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.'

Let us pray: Dear Jesus, may I never be ashamed of you before those for whom you died. Enlarge my understanding that I may I embrace the wonder of your love given me in Baptism. Help me to complete with joy my calling and ministry by following you wherever you lead me. Amen.

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