Commentary Theme for The Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist : Year B.
“John Prepares The Way For The Lord”.
The first reading tells us of the faithful ‘Servant of God’, who will be the light of all peoples. There were those who thought the Baptist was such a light, but John the evangelist clarifies this immediately. “He was not the light, but came to testify to the light”; “the true Light, who enlightens everyone is Christ”.
In the second reading Paul tells us how God prepared his people for the coming of the Messiah and how the Baptist faithfully fulfilled his mission as the herald of Christ.
The Gospel of Luke describes the birth of the Baptist. Luke does so in order to show that with John a new era has dawned: the time of the promises has ended, there is to be no more waiting. God has kept his word.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
Saint Jerome said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ‘Ignorance of Christ’.
This is a text from the prophet Isaiah (2nd. Isaiah) presenting the person of the ‘Servant of the Lord’. The time is about five centuries before Christ; the place is Babylon.
Israel is in exile in a foreign land. Its dreams of glory and power have vanished. Its only comfort is brooding on its past glories: the liberation from Egypt, the prodigies God performed for them at the Red Sea and in the desert, the conquest of the Promised Land.
But remembrance of their glorious past causes them even more sadness and bitterness. They are now a humbled people, they are mere nothings compared to the great powers of the East. They are an insignificant little group of people forcefully deported from their homes. From their enemies all they receive is compassion, nothing more.
Israel’s situation is disastrous, to say the least, and yet this is when the Lord chooses to tell them “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” At first glance this seems hard to credit: how can a group of exiles be entrusted with such a task? And yet the prophet clarifies; this is the Israel “Through whom I will show my glory,” says the Lord.
This is God’s style: he uses humble means to achieve wonderful effects. This is how God acted, even when he chose Israel as his people: “It was not because you are the largest of all nations Moses says that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations. It was because the Lord loved you” (Dt. 7:7-8). God’s calls and choices are not linked to the merits or qualities of any person or nation. God acts quite freely and in an unforeseeable way. He is led only by his gratuitous love, and his choices are always directed towards the accomplishment of a mission.
Christians have always seen ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ as the ‘Servant’ mentioned in the reading; The Affordable Care Act is a long, complex piece of legislation that attempts to reform the healthcare system by providing more Americans with affordable quality health affordablehealth.info and by curbing the growth in healthcare spending in the U. Jesus is the true servant of the Lord. He saved the world through what many consider his greatest failure: his death on the Cross. He accomplished his mission by immolating himself; he always sided with losers, pariahs and the oppressed.
The Baptist, too, just like the servant in the reading, was chosen for a great mission while still in his mother’s womb and filled with the Holy Spirit. His mission was to prepare the way for Christ, the ‘Light of the World’. John said to his disciples, “You heard me saying that I am not the Messiah, but that I was sent ahead of him. The bridegroom has the bride, but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands by and listens, is filled with joy, when he hears the voice of the bridegroom. So am I. He will become more important and I less. He who comes from heaven is above all.
We are called to be servants bringing light and salvation to all people. We must know that we cannot rely on human means and powers to fulfil our mission. The grace for this vocation is given to each one of us, because each one of us is called to achieve the mission of bringing the light and salvation of Christ to all. By refusing our mission, we are refusing God’s grace for the salvation of the world.
Psalm 139:1-3, 13-15. (Missal Ps. 138.)
This ‘Wisdom’ Psalm could be described as a colloquial meditation on God with God. The greater part of the Psalm deals with God’s intimate knowledge of every human being, his presence in every part of the universe, and the awe-inspiring wonders of
his creation. The last part of the Psalm is a prayer that God should eliminate all the wicked people. Our awareness that we are always in the presence of a loving Father should be a source of peace and tranquility.
Paul began his sermon by reminding his Jewish audience of the wonders that the Lord had worked for his people: their liberation from Egypt, the forty years in the desert, the conquest of the Promised Land, the election of Saul, the first king of Israel.
After this reminder, Paul pronounced the words that we read today. King Saul was unfaithful. God then chose David, the ideal sovereign, who was faithful to his will, and became the typical figure of the Messiah. It is from his descendants that God chose as he promised, the Saviour of Israel, Jesus.
Paul goes on to speak of the Baptist: he was the last of all the prophets, and his time marked the end of the long wait and the beginning of the ‘New Era’, the fulfilment of all promises.
Luke 1:57-66, 80.
The ‘Birth of the Baptist’ is presented as a merciful intervention by the Lord in the life of Elizabeth. God shows the greatness of his power and the gratuitousness of his love by turning a woman’s barrenness into fertility. The womb of Elizabeth reflects the condition of all humanity: lifeless, hopeless and without a future. God in his love for humanity, intervenes, and instils life into it once again. This intervention brings an explosion of joy, joy for all. This happens whenever God enters human history.
When the eighth day came to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father. ‘Zechariah’ means that “God has remembered” or “God remembers” his promises. The angel that brought the revelation to Zechariah had also told him that God wanted the child to be named “John” (Lk1: 13), that is, “The Lord has shown mercy, he has manifested his goodness and benevolence”. In the Temple, Zechariah became dumb. He left the shrine unable to utter one word of blessing.
Elizabeth in due course, gave birth to a baby boy, her neighbours and relatives suggested that she should call him Zechariah like his father. She said, “No! He will be called John.” They insisted, “No one in your family is called by that name!” By signs, they asked Zechariah by which name he wanted to call the baby. Zechariah, who had been unable to speak since seeing the vision of the angel, received a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” Everybody was surprised, and even more, when suddenly was able to speak again.
Now his tongue is loosened, and the words he speaks are not about the child, but about the Lord. He proclaims words of blessings: he sings about the wonders he has seen. He exclaims: “The Lord has visited and brought redemption to his people as he promised through the mouths of his holy prophets of old”. (Lk1: 68. 70). This news spread all over the hill country of Judea, and everybody asked, “What is this child going to be?”
The Lord must have had a hand in John’s education, as he emerged from the desert at the appointed hour, ready to be the ‘voice crying in the wilderness’ that the world urgently needed. He came out breathing fire and preaching thunder. Jesus said, “No man born of woman would be greater than John.”
And yet he had the humility to realize he was the least member of the kingdom he proclaimed.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the
Feast of John the Baptist Year B, we reflect on …
Sun. …God renews his covenant with Israel and by the servant’s obedience to God and solidarity with his people he can bring about conversion and salvation for both Israel and all the nations. We do not know who this servant is, mentioned by the prophet Isaiah.
Mon. …Israel now exiled in Babylon about five centuries before Christ are an insignificant little group deported from their homes and humbled. God now chooses to tell them, “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. How can such a humbled group of exiles be entrusted with such a task? Being ‘humble’ is a great qualification to carry out the Lord’s work.
Tue. …This is God’s style: he uses humble means to achieve wonderful effects. Christians have always seen Jesus of Nazareth as the ‘Servant’ mentioned in the reading; he is the true Servant of the Lord. He humbly accepted the will of his Father through what many consider his greatest failure, his death on the Cross. Do we put ourselves in the hands of God and always do his will?
Wed. …The Baptist said, “Look for the one who comes after me”. He laid down his fame for the sake of the One he served. The light of the Baptist began to wane, just as the bright star appeared on the horizon. Can we rejoice in becoming less whilst others become greater?
Thur. … The birth of the ‘Baptist’ is presented as a merciful intervention by the Lord in the life of Elizabeth. God shows the greatness of his power and the gratuitousness of his love by turning a woman’s barrenness into fertility. Our barrenness (lack of faith) can be made fruitful if only we allow the Spirit to come into our hearts!
Frid. …The womb of Elizabeth reflects the condition of all humanity: lifeless, hopeless and without a future. God in his love for humanity, intervenes, and instils life into it once again. Through our faith new life is instilled into us.
Sat. …His birth marks the start of a ‘New Era’. The Lord must have had a hand in John’s education, as he emerged from the desert at the appointed hour, ready to be the voice crying in the wilderness that the world urgently needed. He came out breathing fire and preaching thunder. No man born of woman would be greater than John.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Lord God, Your Prophet John the Baptist was a signpost for the One who was to come. Grant us the grace to be a signpost of the ‘Faithful Servant’s legacy’ by the way we live our lives.This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with Youand the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.
Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.