Homily, the nativity of St. John the Baptist
(Lk 1, 57 – 66.80)
God is the Master of the Universe. He predestines, decides and arranges everything to happen according to his will, and in an order according to his plan, from the greatest upheavals in world history to the smallest events in our daily lives. “Even the hairs of your head have been counted.” (Mt 10, 30). Indeed, Cross references: Matthew 10:30 : 1Sa 14:45; 2Sa 14:11; 1Ki 1:52; Lk 21:18; Ac 27:34
there is nothing that happens without God’s knowing and allowing, as we read today in the book of Prophet Jeremiah : “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.”
From all eternity, God had chosen John the Baptist to be the herald of Christ, Savior of the world. He was to be born to the parents who were both advanced in years, that is, they were too old to have a son. He was to come out of a mother, Elizabeth, who was barren, that is, unable to conceive. But, since nothing is impossible with God. God’s power would make up for everything.
The angel of the Lord said to Zechariah : “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. John will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn their hearts toward their children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.’
John was born six months ahead of Jesus Christ. His nativity not only caused surprise to everybody in his family but also brought great joy to the whole world for he was a signal that the Savior was coming soon. John became the one who paved the way for Christ, calling everyone to repentance and conversion to the Lord. He was called John the Baptist, because he baptized all who came to him at the Jordan River, including Jesus Christ himself. Finally, he was unjustly beheaded by King Herod to foretell the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Thus John has fulfilled the mission that God had entrusted to him.
None of us was born anonymous. On the contrary, all of us were born with a special mission, all of us were born with a unique vocation, a unique job that we alone can do and fulfill; no one else can do it for us or replace us. Just like in a watch or a clock, there are many wheels : some are big, others are of medium size, stilll others are very tiny. Each wheel has its own specific function that no other wheels can replace. Whether big or small, all wheels are equally important to the functioning of the clock.
Similarly, in the providence of God, each one of us was born with a specific task and position in life : some are presidents, bishops, doctors or engineers; others are workers, farmers, businessmen; still others are nurses, housewives or house-maids. Bishops cannot do the job of farmers, engineers cannot do the job of housewives, and housewives cannot do the job of doctors. But each one is best fit for his or her special job and position. As Saint Paul puts it in his First Letter to the Corinthians (1Cor 12 : 21-24) :
“ The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment”
So, all of us are equally important in the plan and providence of God.
A tiger escaped from the zoo. After a week he was captured and taken back to the zoo. His friend asked how he managed to survive a whole week without food. He said : “You know, I hid myself under the stairs of the city hall. For the first two days, I picked up the city mayor and nobody noticed that. The following days I feasted on the vice-mayor, and everything went on normally. But the last day I made a big mistake. I ate a female employee and for that I was discovered, recaptured, and brought back here.”
We don’t need to have inferiority complex or be ashamed of our low position in society. What is important is not that we hold high or low position in life, but that we fulfill our job, our responsibility to the best of our ability. May Saint John the Baptist help us accomplish the task God has committted to us.