Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm
Second Reading: Acts 13:22-26
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. (Lk 1:57-66, 80)
If you have ever played chess or have seen it played, you know that the game is all about placement. Where you place your pieces and how you go after your opponent are important things in this game. Just randomly moving your pieces without a strategy is not the wisest or best way to go about winning. It is important to think about where your pieces are, how you want to use them, where you want them to be, how you will attack, and how you will defend. It is certainly a game of strategy and of placement.
I don't know if God is a chess player or not, but I do know that He knows all about strategy and placement. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. John the Baptist is one of the many examples of God's perfect placement. He called John to go before Jesus and preach a baptism of repentance. So why send John ahead, why not just Jesus? Why it could of been just Jesus preaching this baptism of repentance, it was not God's plan. God knew that it would be better to place someone before Christ to help prepare the way. John built up anticipation and hope that the Messiah was coming very soon, and would be revealed to the people at any moment. John came first to help not only prepare for the ministry of Jesus, but also to prepare the hearts of the people.
Today's celebration of the birth of John the Baptist reminds us of two important things. One is that in order to first encounter Christ, we must first humble ourselves, admit that we sin and do wrong and acknowledge that we need Him. John came into this world to proclaim the Savior, to give people hope, and to help people recognize their faults and their need of Christ. The second thing that we are reminded of is that each of us has been placed here for a purpose. We are the "hidden double edged sword", the "arrows in the quiver" and the Lord has great plans for each of us. Maybe we realize our purpose and calling now, and we know that we are where God has placed us. Perhaps we are not sure of our purpose and calling, if this is the case then do not worry, because God is just waiting until you are in the right place to begin revealing His plan to you. We must always have patience and trust in God's plan for us, just as John the Baptist did.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with. Help us to make this day all about you, and to live for you and let your light shine through us to the rest of the world. Lord, you are our God and we are your people, help us to never forget that. We pray for all those who have fallen away from the Church, may they be brought back home. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.