YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST
HOMILY THEME: BE DILIGENT AND HUMBLE IN OUR EXERCISE OF THE MISSION ENTRUSTED TO US BY GOD
BY: Fr. Unachukwu Nnamdi CCE
As each one of us is unique, so also is the mission God has assigned to us. What distinguishes us is the spirit with which we go about this mission from God and this was the case with John the Baptist. Like John the Baptist, may we be diligent and humble in our exercise of the mission entrusted to us by God; Amen.
Today we celebrate one of the few feasts of birth in the Liturgical Calendar of the Church, the Nativity of John the Baptist. The life of this great man of God and man of faith was a turning point in the history of salvation, being the bridge connecting the old and the new dispensations. Spoken of as the last of the prophets of the Old Testament and the prophet that ushered in the new era of the fullness of revelation in Christ, the Lord Himself attesting to his greatness referred to him as the greatest of all those born of women (Lk 7:28). John was a witness to Christ all through his life, leaping for joy in the womb at the recognition of the presence of the Savior (Lk 1:41), preaching and administering the baptism of repentance in preparation for the Saviour, pointing out Jesus to all as the Saviour of the world, the lamb who takes away the sin of the world, having the greatest honour of baptizing the Lord at the river Jordan and topping it all with the martyr’s crown by the giving of his life for the truth; and the truth in person is Jesus Christ for He said “I am the way the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). John died for the Master for whom the entirety of his existence bore witness to. Hence, “commemorating his birth actually means celebrating Christ, the fulfillment of the promises of all the prophets, among whom the greatest was the Baptist, called to prepare the way for the Messiah.” What we celebrate today are the merits of Christ at work in John the Baptist.
In the Gospel Reading (Lk 1:5-17), we heard the narrative of the birth of John the Baptist, an event that was clearly seen as a miracle from God. All the circumstance that surrounded the conception and birth of John the Baptist pointed to the fact that he was destined for a unique mission; the mission he wholeheartedly accepted and carried out most diligently and with the greatest form of humility. In John the Baptist one sees the great link between life and mission. No human life from the very moment of conception to the point of death is an act of chance or totally of human will. It is God who fashions each and every one of us through the instrumentality of our parents and to all of us God has assigned a mission, the mission that makes each of us distinct and unique but which all together gather us under our one Lord and Father. In the First Reading (Is 49:1-6) this inseparable link between life and mission was made clearer; “before I was born from my mother’s womb He pronounced my name…He who formed me in the womb to be His servant.”
It is one thing to have a mission and it is another thing for us to accept the mission assigned to us and to execute them with the greatest form of diligence and humility; with diligence because our individual and collective missions must always have to be well done and with humility because only this virtue can help us to manage properly the hype, tensions and the challenges of our mission. Humility was a central virtue in the mission of the man whose nativity we celebrate today. The Second Reading (Acts 13:22-26) reminded us of a crucial moment during his life when people wanted to confuse him for the person he came to announce. The voice of humility directing his path led him to declare “I am not the One you imagine me to be; that One is coming after me and I am not fit to undo His sandal.” Without humility, our mission loses not just its content but its focus from the Master to the servant. Without humility we may end up usurping the position of the one we were called to serve and this can only lead to self destruction. We celebrate the nativity of John the Baptist because of how he lived and executed his mission. We can also be celebrated if we imitate his style of life and go about our God-given mission in the spirit with which he distinguished himself.
May God, through the powerful intercession of John the Baptist, renew within us his type of spirit which is so much needed in our world today; Amen. Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE
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