Reflections on the Readings
Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
June 24, 2012 - Year B
A Burning and Shining Lamp
And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, "What then will this child be?" For the hand of the Lord was with him.
Today we rejoice in the birth of John the Baptist. We give God praise for the important link and voice He is in the history of salvation. Elizabeth and Zechariah conceived him in their old age. In the course of his ministry to burn incense in the Most Holy Place, Zechariah was visited by the angel of the Lord. There in that holy moment and sacred space Zechariah received a promise of a son. In a moment of disbelief citing both his and Elizabeth's advanced years, the angel of the Lord struck him with muteness; a condition he bore for over nine months.
John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah. In this he fulfilled the anticipation of Israel of a second Elijah. He lived in obscurity in the desert region sustained by locusts and wild honey. His clothing was a garment of camel's hair accented by a leather girdle. His preaching was fearless in speaking truth to power. And with his words he invited his countrymen to turn their hearts toward God by receiving his baptism of repentance at the waters of the river Jordan. We can safely say John the Baptist was a sight to see and compelling in his preaching.
John was a man sent from God to bear witness to the light. John was not the light but he was a light; a very brightly burning and shining lamp.(John 5:35) Through his testimony he let his light shine so that others could see the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. With his life and words he pointed people to Jesus. He served with humility when explaining the goodness and Godness of Jesus saying, "I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet." Rejecting the notion that he was the Christ, John the Baptist said, "I am not he. I must decrease, but he must increase." Such an integral link in salvation history is John that the earliest Church sees its beginning in the preaching of John the Baptist.
All of us are called to be like John in pointing our family and friends to Jesus and his friendship. Like John we too can be a burning and shining lamp. This is an important truth for our time. Letting our light shine so others can see the goodness of God is what we do. This of course means praying that the Holy Spirit will give us the guidance and the courage to be faithful Christians. This faithfulness is important in the lives we live at home and at the job and wherever we may be. In our desire to live peaceably with everyone we cannot become complacent in our hearts nor take for granted our freedom in Christ or our religious liberty enshrined in our Constitution.
For Father's Day I received a special card note from my son. In his own handwriting he said, "Pops, thank you for teaching me about Jesus. Love, Timothy." Maybe one day when by God's grace you stroll through the Pearly Gates someone will thank you for letting your light shine so that they too could meet and get to know Jesus and his love. By all means let us be like John the Baptist, a burning and shining lamp. Amen.