Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Became Strong

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Minute Meditations

Two-Way Street Minute Meditations

Evangelization is always a two-way street. We might think that we're the ones with the message, with the answers, with the Good News, and yet time and time again we discover that we learn as much from the people we're with as we had when we began the
— from Pope Francis and our Call to Joy

Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist


Jesus called John the greatest of all those who had preceded him: "I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John...." But John would have agreed completely with what Jesus added: "et the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he" (Luke 7:28).

John spent his time in the desert, an ascetic. He began to announce the coming of the Kingdom, and to call everyone to a fundamental reformation of life.

His purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. His Baptism, he said, was for repentance. But One would come who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. John is not worthy even to carry his sandals. His attitude toward Jesus was: "He must increase; I must decrease" (John 3:30).

John was humbled to find among the crowd of sinners who came to be baptized the one whom he already knew to be the Messiah. "I need to be baptized by you" (Matthew 3:14b). But Jesus insisted, "Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15b). Jesus, true and humble human as well as eternal God, was eager to do what was required of any good Jew.  John thus publicly entered the community of those awaiting the Messiah.  But making himself part of that community, he made it truly messianic.

The greatness of John, his pivotal place in the history of salvation, is seen in the great emphasis Luke gives to the announcement of his birth and the event itself—both made prominently parallel to the same occurrences in the life of Jesus. John attracted countless people ("all Judea") to the banks of the Jordan, and it occurred to some people that he might be the Messiah. But he constantly deferred to Jesus, even to sending away some of his followers to become the first disciples of Jesus.

Perhaps John's idea of the coming of the Kingdom of God was not being perfectly fulfilled in the public ministry of Jesus. For whatever reason, he sent his disciples (when he was in prison) to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah. Jesus' answer showed that the Messiah was to be a figure like that of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah (chapters 49 through 53). John himself would share in the pattern of messianic suffering, losing his life to the revenge of Herodias.


John challenges us Christians to the fundamental attitude of Christianity—total dependence on the Father, in Christ. Except for the Mother of God, no one had a higher function in the unfolding of salvation. Yet the least in the kingdom, Jesus said, is greater than he, for the pure gift that the Father gives. The attractiveness as well as the austerity of John, his fierce courage in denouncing evil—all stem from his fundamental and total placing of his life within the will of God.


"And this is not something which was only true once, long ago in the past. It is always true, because the repentance which he preached always remains the way into the kingdom which he announced. He is not a figure that we can forget now that Jesus, the true light, has appeared.  John is always relevant because he calls for a preparation which all men need to make. Hence every year there are four weeks in the life of the Church in which it listens to the voice of the Baptist. These are the weeks of Advent" (A New Catechism).


Daily Prayer - 2015-06-24


I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me, creating me in his image and likeness, making me his temple....


I will ask God's help,

to be free from my own preoccupations,

to be open to God in this time of prayer,

to come to know, love and serve God more.


How do I find myself today?
Where am I with God? With others?
Do I have something to be grateful for?
Then I give thanks.
Is there something I am sorry for?
Then I ask forgiveness.

The Word of God


Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist - Mass during the Day
Lectionary: 587

Reading 1 Is 49:1-6

Hear me, O coastlands,
listen, O distant peoples.
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother's womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
that Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Responsorial Psalm PS 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15

R. (14) I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
O LORD, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R. I praise you for I am wonderfully made.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother's womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
My soul also you knew full well;
nor was my frame unknown to you
When I was made in secret,
when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.
R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.

Reading 2 Acts 13:22-26

In those days, Paul said:
"God raised up David as king;
of him God testified,
I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;
he will carry out my every wish.

From this man's descendants God, according to his promise,
has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance
to all the people of Israel;
and as John was completing his course, he would say,
'What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.
Behold, one is coming after me;
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.'

"My brothers, sons of the family of Abraham,
and those others among you who are God-fearing,
to us this word of salvation has been sent."

Alleluia See Lk 1:76

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You, child, will be called prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 1:57-66, 80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
"No. He will be called John."
But they answered her,
"There is no one among your relatives who has this name."
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name,"
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
"What, then, will this child be?"
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.

Some thoughts on today's scripture

The story of the birth of John parallels in many ways that of the birth of Jesus. They both evoke feelings of wonder and amazement. The stories are told to throw light on the question: Who is this child and how does he fit into God's plan for his people?
  • Place yourself imaginatively into this scene where Elizabeth's relatives and neighbours gather to celebrate the naming of the new-born. Look at the persons and observe their actions, listen to what they say, and ponder the meaning of it all.


Do I notice myself reacting as I pray with the Word of God? Do I feel challenged, comforted, angry? Imagining Jesus sitting or standing by me, I speak out my feelings, as one trusted friend to another.


Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.

Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Luke 1:57-66, 80

The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Immediately his mouth was opened. (Luke 1:64)

Like most births, the birth of John the Baptist is more about the parents than the child. It's a story about God's grace and human faith overoming doubt. Zechariah and the Virgin Mary reacted similarly when the angel Gabriel announced what was going to happen. They both asked, "How can this be?" But they asked with different attitudes.

Mary's was a sincere question. She wanted to understand the mind of God. Zechariah's question was more of a challenge arising from doubt. It's as if he told the angel, "It just isn't going to happen; my wife is too old."

But that's not the end of the story. Zechariah's doubts began to fade when Elizabeth became pregnant. They subsided even more when he heard that the baby leapt in his mother's womb at the sound of Mary's greeting. Zechariah saw these things, and he was changed.

When the baby was born, Zechariah named him John, the name the angel gave him. Then, filled with the Holy Spirit, Zechariah broke out in song and blessed God. Then turning to his newborn son, he said, "You, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins" (Luke 1:76-77).

If that's not a transformation from doubt to faith, then what is?

We are all like Zechariah. We all tend to favor limited human logic over trust in God's promises and his power. Most of us do not expect to see miracles. Deep inside we say, "It just isn't going to happen." But Jesus wants us to believe in miracles and to be open to their possibilities. What Jesus told Thomas, he wants to tell all of us: "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed" (John 20:29).

So expect miracles. Start small, and see how your faith grows. The next time you go to Mass, for instance, ask God to give you a deeper sense of peace and confidence in him. That's a miracle, isn't it? Slowly but surely, you'll find miracles happening all around you!

"Jesus, I believe in miracles."


Isaiah 49:1-6
Psalm 139:1-3, 13-15
Acts 13:22-26




I believe that being amazed is a gift from God.  But what about things that aren't so amazing, like say, dying for your faith, or better said...for Jesus?  This is what happens to the baptist...St. John, the greatest on earth aside from Jesus and Mary, of all the precursors of salvation planned by God.  He lays His life for Jesus.  Who does that nowadays?  Who gives their whole life to Jesus?  The religious?  Just the clergy?  NO.  We are all called to lay our lives...for one another. 
In the Catholic Christian faith, it is not supposed to be about "what can you do for me" or "what can God do for me" as is in so many propsperity preachers' sermons on TV.  No.  It is about what we can do for one another, how can we die for one another?  How can we better serve the Lord.  God makes servants in the womb, and strengthens them in the womb.  Sadly, the womb is where the devil attacks many nowadays through abortion.  And it's not so much a physical  thing as it is spiritual, because he is killing the caterpillar, that would turn into a butterfly, that is to say, the human to an angel, because when we die, that is what we are supposed to turn into. 
Today's 1st Holy Scripture said "Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the LORD, my recompense is with my God."  So many times we can lose heart, become anxious, or depressed or stressed, it all is the same, and we say "where is everybody at?", and why don't people open their eyes or their hearts?  These are people (including me) that have looked back at the plow, which we are not supposed to do.  You are to go straight forth in faith.  This is hard to do, and a it is something St. John the Baptist had to do.
The Psalms pray on "Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb. I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works."  The Lord says He knows us before we are formed in the womb.  The moment of conception is when we are being knit, the soul in the body.  When the egg is fertilized, a miracle happens, and the devil hates it.  And yet, the Lord makes more and more miracles. One of the greatest of miracles is a Holy Martyr's death.  In the expasperation and desperation of the devil, it goes crazy and kills the body for the saint to hush, yet, the saint gets louder and grows like a wildfire when it is killed.  You do not toil in vain!  Where is your faith!  And we are talking about toiling for the Kingdom of God on earth, as it is in Heaven. 
The Holy Gospel brings about the joy of the birth of St. John the Baptist.  Why does the Holy Catholic Church make this a solemnity?  Most saint's days are the day they die, but for St. John The Baptist and for the Mother of God, Mary, we celebrate their birth days.  Why?  Because of their role in salvation history.  Today in old tradition in Mexico, people are probably splashing water on themselves in rememberance of St. John the baptist.  I think later today I'll get a water gun and splash people.  Someone said they splashed a worker last year and he got really angry.  I believe his true colors shined when he got wet, something revealed it, and it was the was like water washing off dirt, just like baptism does for us to be able to enter the Kingdom of God.  They said there was alot of rejoicing at the birth of St. John.  The angel that said John would be born had prophecied that there would be alot of rejoicing.  And St. John the baptist himself leaped for joy in his mother's womb when Mary appeared to them pregnant with our Lord Jesus.  There's more going on in the womb than we CARE about.  The Holy Spirit is already at work. 
"What, then, will this child be?" we read today.  That is the question for you and for me.  What will this child of God be?  Will it be what it is called to be?  We are called to be His.  His is Holy.  His is Love.  His is sacrificial.  His is giving so that we will live, the others will live.  What will happen today with this cold bucket of water of truth splashed on your soul?
The Truth will happen.  The old self dies.  St. John died by beheading because of revenge, because someone wanted to silence him.  Yet, St. John's  physical head is in our Catholic Basilica in Rome.  It is held high and still talking.  Still proclaiming to repent, and make way for the coming of the Lord.  He drank no wine, but Jesus did.  This is water and fire.  This is the mixing of water and wine, but only a drop of water so as to not dilute.  Our sins dilute our wine, our fire.  I want you to be on fire for our Lord Jesus.  From this moment on, take your baptism seriously.  We bless ourselves with Holy Water, we take on baptism on all over again, remind ourselves why we are die for Jesus.

Just like St. John the Baptist

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