St. John the Baptist
By Lisa Fernandes
Today is the Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, one of the oldest celebrations in the Church. And a popular holiday in Québec (St. Jean-Baptiste Day). John is an important figure in that he is a forerunner of Christ. This is shown in that his birthday is June 24th, six months before the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Ordinarily the death of a Saint is celebrated as a Feast Day but there are two notable exceptions, Mary and St John the Baptist where their birth is celebrated instead. While not officially declared as such, many believe that John was cleansed of original sin when he recognized Jesus and leaped within his mother’s womb. As we read in the first reading: “…pay attention, you peoples from far away! And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant,…” (Isaiah 49.5) Pope Francis recognizes the importance of St. John the Baptist as a model of evangelizing when he says, “In sharing the Gospel with others, Christians must be like St. John the Baptist, preparing the way for the Lord, pointing him out to others, then stepping aside.” Perhaps in that way, we can all be precursors of Christ’s second coming. John baptized Jesus and knew from the start of Jesus’ greatness. He shows his admiration and how unimportant he is in comparison to Jesus in the second reading when he says: ”…one is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of the sandals on his feet.” (Acts 13.25) John knew from the beginning he was special, as unworthy as he considered himself in comparison. His mother Elizabeth became pregnant with him even though she was not of childbearing age. He knew in the womb that he was there to herald Christ. Even when it came time to name him, though he would normally receive a relative’s name, like that of his father Zechariah, instead Elizabeth said his name would be John. Zechariah used a writing tablet and wrote: “His name is John.” (Luke 1.63) after which he regained his power of speech. John spent most of his early life in the desert until he appeared publicly — again being a forerunner to Jesus. In those days in the desert he went through dark times doubting his role but then gave light to the world in foretelling Christ. We all may sometimes feel we are going through dark times, but can look forward to the light of Christ.
Luke 1.57-66, 80
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
by Fr. Norm Tanck
“… acknowledge today and take to heart that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Keep his statutes and his commandments…” (Dt 4:32-34, 39-40). One of the familiar images of the Holy Trinity is the 15th century Rublev icon. Three angels representing the Trinity are seated around a square table. The fourth side is left open as an invitation for others to join them in the communion they are sharing. The fourth place at the Trinitarian table is ours. We come to know the life of the Trinity through entering into the mystery itself by loving as God loves. Jesus gave us the great commandment to love one another as he loved us (John 15:12-15). That love is the same love with which Jesus loves the Father and the Father love him, “As the Father loves me, so I love you” (John 15:9). That love is the power of the Holy Spirit to change hearts and renew the earth. But, just as we are invited into this loving communion of persons, Jesus charges us to invite others into the table fellowship depicted in the Rublev Trinity icon. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:16-20).
Deuteronomy 4.32-34, 39-40
Renew the face of the Earth
by Michael Pirri
The word “Pentecost” is derived from the greek word for fiftieth; today marks the fiftieth, and last, day of Eastertide. It’s also known as Whitsunday from “White Sunday”, in reference to the Solemnity being a day where traditionally, donned in their white garments, many people were baptized. Our first reading today is taken from the Acts of the Apostles, and depicts what must have been a frightening, yet exciting, occurrence for the apostles. I can’t help but wonder what they must have been thinking as they began to speak different languages. What must have first felt like a gift, I’m sure began to feel like a tremendous responsibility to share Gospel. Throughout the ages, that responsibility has carried on, and now it is our responsibility. Imagine if we felt the same sense of urgency that the apostles felt. How much does each of us play a role to contributing to this evangelization? How can we let the Spirit fill us and lead us? Just as the Holy Spirit filled each of the apostles there, so too does it fill us with our gifts. Praying the following prayer, I’d like you to spend a few moments every day this week to think about the way your gifts are meant to be used: Father of light, from whom every good gift comes, send your Spirit into our lives with the power of a mighty wind, and by the flame of your wisdom open the horizons of our minds. Let the Spirit you sent on your Church to begin the teaching of the Gospel continue to work in the world through the hearts of all who believe. Amen. Sunday’s Readings: Acts 2.1-11 Psalm 104 1 Corinthians 12.3-7, 12-13 John 15.26-27; 16.12-15