The Gospel for Sunday, June 24th, 2007
Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Lk 1:57-66, 80
"The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name" (Is 49:1).
Today we celebrate the birth of Saint John the Baptist. The words of the Prophet Isaiah are well-suited to describe this great biblical figure who stands between the Old and the New Testaments. In the long line of Israelís prophets and just men and women, John "the Baptizer" was placed by Godís providence immediately before the Messiah, in order to prepare the way before him by his preaching and by the witness of his life.
Of all the Saints, John is the only one whose birth is celebrated by the Liturgy. We heard in the first Reading that the Lord called his Servant "from his motherís womb". This statement refers in its fullest sense to Christ, but in a derivative way it can also be applied to his Precursor. Both are born as the result of a special intervention by God: the first is born of the Virgin, the second of an elderly and barren woman. Even from his motherís womb John indicates the One who will reveal to the world the loving plan of God.
"From my motherís womb you called me" (Responsorial Psalm)
Today we can make our own these words of the Psalmist. God knew and loved us even before our eyes could contemplate the marvels of creation. At birth all men and women receive a human name. But even before that, each one has a divine name: the name by which God the Father knows and loves them from eternity and for eternity. This is true for everyone, with the exception of none. No one is nameless in Godís sight! All have equal value in his eyes: all are different, yet all are equal, and all are called to be sons and daughters in the SonÖ
"His name is John" (Lk 1:63). Before his astonished kinsmen, Zechariah confirms that this is the name of his son, writing it on a tablet. God himself, through his angel, had given that name, which in Hebrew means "God is benevolent". God is benevolent to human beings: he wants them to live; he wants them to be saved. God is benevolent to his people: he wants to make of them a blessing for all the nations of the earth. God is benevolent to humanity: he guides its pilgrim way towards the land where peace and justice reign. All this is contained in that name: John!
Dear brothers and sisters! John the Baptist was the messenger, the forerunner: he was sent to prepare the way for ChristÖ