Pastor's Desk: Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist

Posted 23rd June 2012 in Pastor's Desk

Today we forgo the usual rotation of the Sundays in Ordinary Time in order to celebrate the Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist which is always celebrated on the 24th June and supersedes the Sunday readings. It is very rare we celebrate birthdays in the church calendar; normally saints are remembered on the date of their death. John joins with Jesus, the Christ, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, in having his birthday honoured each year.

John was a prophet, which today is associated with foretelling the future but in scripture is understood as telling the Truth of God to people in season and out of season. John was extraordinary even from his birth. His parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth (a cousin of Mary) were quite elderly when he was born and this was a blessing by God on them. John’s role was to prepare the way for the Messiah who was his cousin, Jesus, by calling people to repentance. John was prophetic in that he told the truth of God even to King Herod who was in an adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife Herodias. Herod would have had him killed earlier but John was very popular among the people who flocked to him in the wilderness where he lived in order to be baptised. This baptism was not like our Christian baptism but a repentance from sin. John’s life was eventually ended after Herod promised Herodias’ daughter anything she wanted after she danced for the king and his court. She consulted her mother, and requested John’s head.

Each Christian is called to speak the truth of God in the situations in which they find themselves. As the Eucharistic Congress emphasised, we are witnesses to the Gospel of Christ in this modern society and the message will not always be welcome.

Fr. Eoin

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