Saturday, June 23, 2012

Feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist: Born to be prophets for Freedom in Christ

St John the Baptist was guilty of getting entangled in the politics of his day. Herod through his immoral adulterous lifestyle flouted God's laws about marriage and scandalized others into disobedience. The last and the greatest of the prophets, Saint John, challenged him on it. As a result of his courage to speak out, Saint John lost his head.

But he gained heaven.

Our Catholic Faith is given in Christ by God for the purpose of gaining heaven as Saint John the Baptist did. On our way to that place of eternal happiness, laughter and love with God and all the saints we need to be able to act at all times in accord with our Faith and to speak out, preaching the Faith in our words and actions as did Saint John the Baptist. If we act ashamed of God before the world in this life by refusing to publicly witness to the truth as did Saint John the Baptist, Jesus Christ has promised us that He will be ashamed of us before His heavenly Father.

It is providential that this feast of the last and the greatest of prophets falls within the Fortnight for Freedom led by our Catholic bishops in order to draw attention to the necessity of religious freedom, the first of our rights. Without the freedom given by God and respected by the state, we cannot live out our Baptismal vocation as called to by Almighty God. Faithful citizenship, as taught by our bishops, demands full and active engagement with the society and culture around us in order to bring the light, love and salvation of Christ to the whole world.

John live in faithful and prophetic witness to Christ, made necessary by love, until the end.

"Going before Jesus 'in the spirit and power of Elijah', John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom." (CCC 523)

Unlike Saint John, who received the fullness of the Holy Spirit while he was still in the womb of his mother Elizabeth, we were born into the Holy Spirit after our birth through the sacrament of Baptism. Like John, though, we have been given the Spirit of God who is love in order to witness in love to others. Witness means showing consistency between what we believe and how we live. Witness also sometimes means "martyr", as for Saint John, giving our lives for God in order to remain faithful to the end.

Image: Luca Giordano, The birth of Saint John the Baptist

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