Homily for the Solemnity of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist

Many of the questions that people ask in the gospels are worth pondering. In today’s gospel reading, we find one such question, ‘What will

Many of the questions that people ask in the gospels are worth pondering. In today’s gospel reading, we find one such question, ‘What will this child turn out to be?’

The question was people’s response to the unusual circumstances surrounding the birth of John the Baptist. His father, Zechariah, had insisted that his newborn child was to be called ‘John’, even though no one in the family ever had the name ‘John’.

However, this was the name the angel Gabriel had given to the child who was to be born of Zechariah and Elizabeth when Gabriel appeared to Zechariah. Zechariah, who had lost his power of speech when he doubted the word of Gabriel, now received it back when he named his newborn son ‘John’. The circumstances of John the Baptist’s birth were unusual indeed. No wonder, those present asked, ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ It is a question that could be asked of any newborn child. Indeed, it is a question that could be asked of any one of us, at any stage of our lives. We are always a work in progress, all of us. None of us is the finished product, regardless of our age or stage in life.

We can all ask ourselves, ‘What will I turn out to be – today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year? Shortly after the crowd asked that question in relation to the newborn child of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the evangelist said that ‘the child grew up and his spirit matured. John’s human spirit matured because he was open to God’s Spirit. This is how the Lord would want us all to turn out. He calls us every day to keep maturing in spirit, by opening ourselves more fully to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In today’s responsorial psalm, the psalmist turns to God and says, ‘I thank you for the wonder of my being’.

The Lord calls us to allow the wonder of our being to flourish by surrendering ourselves to the movement of the Holy Spirit within us, after the example of John the Baptist who lived the wonder of his being to the full. Amen

Fr. John Peter
St. John the Baptist pray us?

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