The Birthday of Saint John the Baptizer
Vigil readings: Jeremiah 1:4-10; 1Peter 1:8-12; Luke 1:5-17 (586)
(Day readings: Isaiah 49:1-6; Acts 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-66, 80)
The Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 71) invites us to hope in God’s strength for what we are called to do: “Since my mother’s womb, you have been my strength.”
Christians minister authentically only as the body of Christ. At Mass we join Jesus in saying to the whole world, “This is my body, given up for you.” In this act we surrender our bodies to let Jesus, living within us, express himself with us, in us and through us to give his divine life to others.
This sounds presumptuous. Do we really believe Jesus himself is speaking and acting in us when we express our faith and love to others? Do we dare?
In Jeremiah 1:4-10: God says he has chosen Jeremiah and is sending him:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
Jeremiah is afraid to accept the mission: “Ah, Lord, look! I do not know how to speak, I am a child.” But the Lord answers, “Do not say, ‘I am a child.’ Go now to those to whom I send you,… For I am with you… I am putting my words in your mouth.”
What Jesus says to us is stronger:
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit…. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last,
So every baptized member of the body of Christ is just as chosen, consecrated and sent as Jeremiah was. Why are we not aware of it? Paul was:
In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast of my work for God…. what Christ has accomplished through me.…
The answer, in part, is that we were not properly catechized. This is no reflection on our teachers; four of the last popes have called for a “new evangelization,” meaning that they recognize we have not really heard the Good News. This is a problem in the whole Church, one that is being addressed and overcome. But we have to make it happen in and around us.
What Luke 1:5-17 says of John, “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit,” we must hear as spoken to us. Acts says it constantly of the early Christians.
John was called to “bring back many to the Lord.” So are we. If we can’t believe this, how can we believe the mystery that by Baptism we “became Christ”? Or say with Paul, “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”
We need to hear, ponder and believe the mystery of our Baptism. Then we will understand the mystery we celebrate in Eucharist. We will say with new meaning, “This is my body, given up…”
Now read 1Peter 1:8-12 in context:
You have been chosen, destined by God the Father, sanctified by the Spirit… You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, [sent to] proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Initiative: Believe “all the things announced to you…through the Holy Spirit.”
 Romans 15:17-18.
 See Acts 2:4, 4:8,31, 7:55, 9:17, 13:9,52; Ephesians 5:18. See the “gift of the Spirit” in Acts 1:8, 2:38, 8:15, 19:1-6, Galatians 3:2, 1:14.
 Galatians 2:20; Catechism of the Catholic Church 795; 2Corinthians 11:10, 12:9, 13:3.
 1Peter 1:2, 2:5-9.