Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. This feast has a special significance in our country. St. John the Baptist is the special patron of French Canadians. To all those present and to all our viewers who have francophone heritage: Bonne et heureuse fete de St. Jean Baptiste.
The obvious question is: Why is it important to celebrate the birth of this saint who lived 2,000 years ago?
In order to answer this question, let’s consider John’s role as presented in the 2nd Reading. John was the forerunner of Christ. His mission was to prepare the way for Jesus. By his preaching, he announced that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. When Jesus walked by, John literally pointed at him and said, “Behold the Lamb of God”.
The reason for which we celebrate this feast is that John the Baptist is a role model of Christian living for us. In imitation of the Baptist, we are to proclaimers and preachers of Jesus Christ. Our lives ought to point to Jesus. How is it possible for us to be such witnesses to Jesus Christ in our world?
Let’s consider 2 important qualities of John the Baptist’s witness. First, John the Baptist was not afraid to wear his faith on his sleeve. It was clear to everyone who met him that God played a central role in his life and that his priority was doing God’s work.
Likewise for us, our Christian faith is not meant to be kept secret but to be broadcast and shared. Our faith, our knowledge of Jesus and his Gospel, is not something private to be kept to ourselves.
A “good” Catholic is not just one who keeps all the Commandments, goes often to Mass, stays in the “state of grace” but, rather, one who radiates his/her faith, and shares it generously with others. Why? Because we want others to have the experience of loving and being loved by God that we have. If we are not SEEN to be Christians, we have somehow failed, no matter how good our inner lives may be. To be a Christian is not just to be a good person but a sharer of faith by word and action.
Our family, relatives, friends and neighbors ought to see that we are practicing our faith openly. Everyone around us should see that we are turning to God for help, comfort and strength by our commitment to prayer, reading of Scripture, celebration of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and generous service to those in need. That is how we have been called to preach the Gospel. That is how we are being called to be a modern day disciple of the Lord.
The biggest mistake that we can make is to think that we are alone in this task. We have each other. Through gatherings of the parish community such as this, we encourage and support each other in this mission to be living witnesses to Jesus.
Each of us must ask ourselves these questions: Does everyone who knows me know that I am a Christian? How public am I about my Christian beliefs? How do I support and encourage others to be committed to their faith?
The 2nd quality of John the Baptist’s witness is that he literally brought Jesus to other people. John the Baptist said, “Look. There is the Saviour of the world”.
A fundamental principle is that the Gospel needs to be proclaimed. People can only believe if they hear and see the Gospel from someone else.
If we look at our lives, we see that this statement is true. As I examine my life, I see clearly that many people have been influential in bringing me to the point where I am now in my faith life. I know that for me my family of origin played a pivotal role in my faith development. The way in which my mother, father, grandmother dealt with hardships and sorrows through the lens of faith had a big impact on me. Everyone here can say the same thing. It was another person or a group of people who brought us to the Lord.
What we have received from others, we must, in turn, give to others. Each one of us, through our Baptism, has received the same calling that John the Baptist received: to go out and bring Christ into other people’s lives.
People will never hear, if there is no proclamation. There will be no proclamation unless people are sent. As John the Baptist was sent to Israel 2,000 years ago, we are being sent to Sudbury in 2020.
Today’s Gospel invites us to reflect on these questions: How have my words and actions contributed to spreading the Gospel in this community? To whom have I brought Jesus?
As our Mass continues, let us ask God to help us to be proclaimers, preachers, pointers to, witnesses like St. John the Baptist. First, regardless of our personal circumstances, may we never be shy about showing that our daily lives are influenced by Jesus Christ and his Gospel. Second, may we bring Christ to our homes, classrooms, places of work, neighborhoods and community by what we think, by what we say and, more importantly, by what we do.
Deacon Roland Muzzatti
June 24, 2020