Birth of St. John the Baptist

Today we celebrate a solemnity commemorating the Birth of St. John the Baptist. It’s celebrated six months before Christmas Eve because, as Luke tells us in his Gospel, John’s mother Elizabeth became pregnant with him sixth months before the Word became flesh in Mary’s womb (see Luke 1:36). John is the last prophet before the coming of the Messiah, the forerunner who announces and prepares a path for him (as Paul reminds us in the Second Reading), which is why his vocation, from his mother’s womb (as the First Reading reminds us today), starts a little before the Messiah’s.

John’s father Zechariah was incredulous when Gabriel told him he’d have a son and that his son would be the prophet who’d prepare the way for the Messiah (see Luke 1:18-23). For sixth months he’d seen the first part of the angel’s prophecy come true, but only as a mute (or, better said, muted) witness. When we don’t unite our plans to God’s plans we make ourselves silent spectators and his plans continue to move forward either with us or without us. Zechariah gets back on track when an opportunity presents itself to show he was back with the program: Elizabeth wanted to name her son John, and the family was confused by this choice. Zechariah not only seconded his wife’s wishes, but God’s as well, and God provided a sign to back it up: the restoration of Zechariah’s voice, just in time for him to start praising the plans of God and his newborn son’s role in it.

Let’s ask John the Baptist today to help us see where we might be silent spectators regarding God’s plan. What do I think God’s plans are for my life, my family, my corner of the world? And how can I give witness to that plan and second it in my own life? Let’s second God’s plans wholeheartedly, enthusiastically, and joyfully, as Zechariah does today, confident that it will help prepare the way for others to encounter the Messiah.

Readings: Isaiah 49:1–6; Psalm 139:1b–3, 13–15; Acts 13:22–26; Luke 1:57–66, 80.