24 June – Solemnity of St John the Baptist (Mass during the Day)
Islands, listen to me,
pay attention, remotest peoples.
The Lord called me before I was born,
from my mother’s womb he pronounced my name.
He made my mouth a sharp sword,
and hid me in the shadow of his hand.
He made me into a sharpened arrow,
and concealed me in his quiver.
He said to me, ‘You are my servant (Israel)
in whom I shall be glorified’;
while I was thinking, ‘I have toiled in vain,
I have exhausted myself for nothing’;
and all the while my cause was with the Lord,
my reward with my God.
I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord,
my God was my strength.
And now the Lord has spoken,
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
to gather Israel to him:
‘It is not enough for you to be my servant,
to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel;
I will make you the light of the nations
so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’
After forty years, God deposed Saul and made David their king, of whom he approved in these words, “I have selected David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will carry out my whole purpose.”
To keep his promise, God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Saviour, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his career he said, “I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.”
‘My brothers, sons of Abraham’s race, and all you who fear God, this message of salvation is meant for you.
Luke 1:57-66. 80
Meanwhile the time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy.
Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. ‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘But no one in your family has that name’, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.
Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel.
His name is John.
I have a friend named John. Actually, I have eleven friends named John. How many do you have?
The name John is such a common name, but do we know what the name means? It means “Yahweh is gracious”. One of the greatest men to have ever lived was also named John, and today we are celebrating his birthday. He is John the Baptist. Born from a elderly woman who was barren all her life, and made the son of an equally elderly Jewish priest, John was the gracious gift of God to these people. Giving birth to John and bringing him up to be ready for what God was calling him for was the main purpose of their existence.
What about John? What was the purpose of his existence? It was to proclaim the coming of the Christ. John the Baptist is so well-known as a prophet that Christians, Muslims and even those of the Baha’i faith regard him as a prophet. In fact, there is even a tiny Gnostic religion, called the Mandaeans, who regard John as a divine prophet but reject Jesus as a false prophet. But so what if John was well-known? What does it mean?
It means that through John the Baptist, God was making His salvation “reach to the ends of the earth”, as it says in the first reading for today. In fact, there were more popes that have taken the name John than any other name. It is truly a Catholic name, in the universal sense. It is a reminder that Yahweh is indeed gracious.
So my friends, take some time today to thank your friends named John for reminding you of God’s graciousness, and make them feel proud to bear this wonderful name after John the Baptist.
(Today’s reflection by Daniel Tay)
Prayer: We pray for all our friends named John, that wherever they go, whoever they meet, they may always remind people that Yahweh is gracious. Amen.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for all our friends named John.
25 June, Wed – 2 Kings 22:8-13. 23:1-3; Matthew 7:15-20
26 June, Thu – 2 Kings 24:8-17; Matthew 7:21-29
27 June, Fri – 2 Kings 25:1-12; Matthew 8:1-4
28 June, Sat – Lamentations 2:2. 10-14; Matthew 8:5-17 – Memorial of St Irenaeus
Vigil of Sts Peter and Paul – Acts 3:1-10; Galatians 1:11-20; John 21:15-19
29 June, Sun – Acts 12:1-11; 2 Timothy 4:6-8. 17-18; Matthew 16:13-19 – Soleminty of Peter and Paul, Apostles
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