Homily on the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist.
Dearly beloved, we are celebrating today the birth of someone who in the words of Jesus is the greatest of all those born of women (Lk 7:28 – My focus is not on this this text though). Unlike the other gospels, only St. Luke records this detail of the nativity of John the Baptist.
As I started reading the passage this week, I just couldn’t move on from the first verse opening our reading. Luke 1:57 “When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child, she gave birth to a son. As you are aware, there are only two people whose births are recorded in the gospel of Luke, John the Baptist and our Lord himself. I was curious to read about the passage on the birth of our Lord; this is what I read, Luke 2:6-7a “While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn son”.
Does something strike any of you concerning these two different passages? What is that? What I am referring to is the essence of TIME in these two different passages. In the history of the relationship between God and his people, time is very significant. God never acted till it was TIME. Time, in this context, is the period in which God allows things to happen according to his great plan.
Look at the circumstances in which John was born with over-aged parents who have never given birth. (My mind goes back to another personality in the Old Testament who was in a similar situation. Out of fear, he forced an issue outside the time of God, then what happened? I hope you know who I am talking of – Abraham. Even in his situation, God overlooked that son and when it was God’s time he gave him Isaac).
Beloved, God still has power over time and what happens within time. What time do you find yourself in now? What is happening in your life at this time in your life? Do you wonder at times whether a different time will come? Do you often ask yourself when will you enter a different time in your life? A time of peace, a time of great joy and fulfillment. What time do you desire to be in?
John the Baptist, whose birth we celebrate today was not just born, he was born when the TIME came. The time that God had appointed. Our savior Jesus equally was not just born. He was born when the time was right. That time you seek will come. Only be patient and trust that God is in control of what happens within time. Be patient and hopeful, that time will come as God has planned.
If the time is delayed unnecessarily, God is never the problem but you. Because we don’t get ourselves prepared and ready for all the events within the time we seek. Before that time comes, what do you see yourself do? You see yourselves complaining all the time, feeling sorry for your situation all the time, accusing and blaming others for your situation all the time. You hardly think for a moment what God is trying to teach you with your seemingly bad situation. Until you reach the place of trust and surrender, you are not ready for your next life that God intends for you. You are not ready for the events in the time you seek.
John the Baptist had a huge role in the life of Jesus and was to prepare others to know of the coming of salvation and of Jesus. John the Baptist lived to the purpose of his birth; that is preparing the hearts of people for the savior. A role he performed till his death.
In a similar way, Isaiah tells us in the first reading of his own awareness that God had called him to be a servant of God’s presence in all that he did.
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother's womb, he gave me my name. …
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.
Dearly beloved, in whatever TIME you find yourself now, You and I are being invited today to know that God is also calling us in the same way, with the same intensity. God wants you to show his glory in whatever time he has given you. God loves you to entrust this responsibility to you.
St. Paul in the second reading from Acts of the Apostles echoes the humility of John the Baptist in directing all to Christ. You have a whole lot of people that you need each day to direct to Christ. Take some few minutes to think of people around you that need Christ in their life. Your family, friends, colleagues at work etc. However, know that you cannot give what you do not have. It is not only by word of mouth but more importantly your attitude and actions.
Again, the gospel tells the things that happened before and after the birth of John the Baptist. The neighbors all knew that there was something special about this child. I wish to encourage you to see your birth in this life as equally special. No matter the time you find yourself at this moment, there is a purpose to your life. Never look down on yourself. So also the birth of every new child is special with a purpose.
Dearly Beloved, let us pray in this mass that God will open our eyes to see how special and purposeful each human life is so as to encourage new life, protect new life, respect new life and above all cherish our own lives. And together with the psalmist let us all say, I am fearfully and wonderfully made.