This weekend we are celebrating nativity of John the Baptist. The Liturgy usually celebrates the day of their death, their birthday to heaven. There are only two exceptions: Mary the mother of Jesus, and John the Baptist. The annunciation of John the Baptist to Zechariah in the Temple, Vigil Mass Gospel, and the naming of the child with the name provided by God, Sunday’s Gospel, points out that God had a special mission for John to fulfill.
John the Baptist's life was fueled by one burning passion – to point others to Jesus Christ and to the coming of God's kingdom. Scripture tells us that John was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb (Luke 1:15, 41) by Christ himself, whom Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, John leapt in the womb of Elizabeth as they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). The fire of the Spirit dwelt in John, and he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness prior to his ministry. When Jesus and John met first time, John leaped for joy in Elizabeth's womb. There comes the first preparation. John’s motto of true humility and commitment to the Lord’s service. John brought to the world that light and joy that he experienced the first time.
John’s message was similar to the message of the Old Testament prophets who told the people of God for their unfaithfulness and who tried to awaken true repentance in them. John inaugurates a widespread ministry of baptism for the forgiveness of sin by challenging the self-righteous people to repentance. He is a central figure to prepare the way for Jesus and introduction of the Messiah to the world. John the Baptist proclaimed that he must decrease and the Lord must increase.
When John was born, his father, Zechariah, his voice restored, proclaimed a great truth, “You, my child, shall be called the Prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.” The Canticle of Zechariah, is prayed every day as part of the Morning Prayers in Divine Office. This prayer reminds us that we all are called to proclaim Jesus Christ. It’s challenging, isn’t it?