“Jesus plan called for action, and how He expressed it predicted its success. He didn't say "you *might* be my witnesses," or "you *could* be my witnesses," or even "you *should* be my witnesses." He said "you *will* be my witnesses.” – Charles Swindoll: (born October 18, 1934 is an evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator, and radio preacher)
Gospel Text: (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.
Today we celebrate the birth of St. John the Baptist. He was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Luke tells us the angel Gabriel announced his birth to his father Zechariah and gave him the name John, which means “God is gracious.” (Luke 1:8-23) When the Church celebrates the feast day of a saint, we are usually celebrating the day of the saint’s death—what you might call the saint’s “supernatural birthday”—the day on which they entered heaven. But the Church also celebrates the natural days of birth of three persons: Christ Jesus, of course, on the feast we call Christmas; the Blessed Virgin Mary, on September 8th, nine months after the feast of Mary’s Immaculate Conception; and Saint John the Baptist, on this day which falls sixth months before Christmas eve.
Many people provide messages that they themselves do not live up to. But John the Baptist not only preaches a message, he is the message. Because his beliefs and his actions are one and the same, people listen to what he says. He is an authentic witness because he himself is authentic.
John's preaching is a witness of the truth.
His message is effective because he is completely empty of himself. He does not preach himself. He points to someone beyond himself.
"One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1: 7-8).
Our world has an urgent need for witnesses.
We must witness that our identity is centered on true spirituality, and that our morality derives from that spirituality.
We must witness that our faith challenges many of the values of the dominant secular culture.
We must witness that our traditions have great meaning for us.
We must witness that adherence to traditional morality often comes at a considerable personal cost: perhaps of losing family, friends, even jobs.
We must witness that what we have found in Christ Jesus is true, real and worth living out.
We must witness by striving for personal holiness, authenticity and integration. Witness has no room for complacency, hypocrisy, or self-indulgence.
To be a witness in this way is not an easy task. We may stumble and fall many times. However, the Lord will magnify our frail efforts into enormous accomplishments for the fulfillment of his salvific plan.