Gospel – Luke 1:57-66;80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?”
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.

Reflection on the Gospel

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
In Chapter 7 of Luke, Jesus says: “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John, yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”

For the Vigil of this Feast there are 3 Readings and for the Day itself there are 3 different Readings. Obviously this is a special Feast.

John the Baptist was the herald – he announced the coming of Jesus, he worked to get the people ready for the coming of Jesus.

In the first Reading for the Vigil, we read these words in Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”

In the first Reading on Sunday we read this in Isaiah: “I will make you a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

It is clear from both these Readings that John the Baptist had a very important role to play in preparing the people for the coming of Jesus – a prophetic role. Prophets were those who warned the people that they had strayed from true worship and had forgotten their role as witnesses.

Peter, in the second reading for the Vigil talks about the role of prophets in serving not themselves but us with regard to the things that have been announced to us.

And then in the Reading from Acts, Paul tells that John heralded Jesus’ coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance. Paul concludes by saying: “to us this word of salvation has been sent.”

Finally we have the Gospels. In the Gospel for the Vigil we read how Zechariah was assured that John would turn many…to the Lord.

In the Gospel of the day we are told that fear came upon the neighbors of Elizabeth and Zechariah who asked: “What, then, will this child be?” because they knew that surely the hand of God was with him.

The Church in presenting to us John the Baptist, is calling us to be faithful followers of Jesus in today’s world which is full of distractions and temptations. Even when we want to do what is right we often find it difficult to do.

We must pray to be strong like John the Baptist. We must pray to have courage like John the Baptist. We must reflect on how God loves us and wants us to be saved.

We must, as St. Francis of Assisi said: “Preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words.

Brother Robert Hazard, FSC
LSA Providence Community

Saint John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts – Forever.