It isn’t often that the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist coincides with a Sunday observance, but this year it is the case. So for this birthday celebration, the readings focus on John’s role of inspiring people to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, similar to what we hear in Advent. We are speaking of the John who was the last of the prophets, the forerunner of Jesus; not to be confused with the Apostle John.
What can we learn from John the Baptist? He did not shrink from his call to herald the coming of Jesus. Eventually it cost him his life when Herod’s daughter asked for his head on a plate. And it happened! In our time, we are also called as followers of Jesus to be enthusiastic in proclaiming the love of God and making other disciples. Our U.S. Bishops have stated: “Jesus came to set this fire upon the earth, until all is ablaze in the love of God. We pray this fire will come upon us as disciples as we, led by the Spirit, carry out Christ’s great commission to go and make disciples of all the nations.”
Bishop Ricken has been reminding us all recently that we are to be “missionary disciples”. Our Church is missionary by her very nature. That means that all her members , US, are called by God to bring the Gospel by word and deed to all peoples and in every situation of work, education, culture, and life in which we find ourselves. Do we take that calling seriously?
May John the Baptist inspire US to carry out that mission with enthusiasm and courage. May we trust that God will help us be His witnesses like John. We can be that missionary right here.