HOMILY ON THE SOLEMNITY OF THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
Today the Church is celebrating the Solemnity of the birth of John the Baptist. This is no doubt a special celebration and that is why the Church could still celebrate it on a Sunday. John the Baptist occupies a very expedient position in the history of salvation being the forerunner of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord himself made it clear that John the Baptist occupies a very important position in the entire framework of his salvific mission. That is actually why he would in the gospel of Luke (7:28) say that among all those born of women none is greater than John.
In this reflection, we shall be looking at the birth of John as heralding the immediate coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. His birth marks the bringing forth of the object of proximate preparation for the coming of the messiah. John thus qualifies as an inter-testamental prophet. He carried on the message of the Old Testament (prepare a way for the Lord and make his paths straight… Isaiah 40:3-5) into the New Testament and went ahead to witness its fulfillment.
John’s birth actually followed the trend of the birth of great and significant figures in the bible. The trend among these figures is that their parents went through years of turbulence and searching before their birth. The following make the list:
- Isaac (Genesis 18& 21)
- Jacob & Esau (Genesis 25: 21ff)
- Joseph (Genesis 30: 22-24)
- Samson (Judges 13:3ff)
- Samuel (I Samuel 1&2)
- John the Baptist (Luke 1:7; 57ff)
John the Baptist actually came for the sole purpose of preparing the way for the messiah. Hence the bareness of Elizabeth all the while was within divine plan. Her womb had been prepared to carry the immediate herald of the advent of the messiah. John the Baptist couldn’t have been born at any other time and for any other purpose apart from the time and season of the Messiah. He was born for that purpose and he knew it from the mother’s womb. No wonder then he leapt for joy when Mary the Mother of the Lord greeted her mother (Luke 1:41).
The birth of John the Baptist served as a strong indicator that God’s plan for the salvation of mankind was near. Hence we can make bold to say that there was need for a John the Baptist before the coming of the Christ. This is actually contained in God’s nature and character; the art of preparation before undertaking any activity. There are numerous references from the Genesis to Revelation. We shall make few references here:
- Before the creation of man and woman God prepared the earth for them (Genesis 1:1-31).
- Before the flood God prepared Noah and his family (Genesis 7)
- God asked Moses to prepare the people for three days before the encounter at Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:10).
- The Judges and Prophets were prepared before they undertook divine tasks.
- John the Baptist came to prepare the spiritual ground for the messiah through his preaching and baptism of repentance.
The celebration of the birth of John the Baptist is in a way a remote celebration of our redemption. This is because he prophesized about the coming of the redeemer (There is one coming after me who is more powerful than me….Mark 1:7-8), and showed him to all when he finally came (…This is the Lamb of God…. John 1: 29-34).
We have a lot to learn today from the birth John the Baptist.
- In the first place his life and ministry was totally under divine will and direction. He cued into this divine plan and direction till he died in active service. We have been called individually for specific missions. God has a plan for each and every one of us (Jer. 29:11). We are blessed and greatly too if we discover and work in accordance with God’s plan. Do not work in another person’s plan. Work with the plan God has set for you. Most people have abandoned the life they should live and are living the lives of others. You are special the way you are and God loves you that way.
- We see in the life of John the Baptist humility at its best. He never arrogated to himself anything that did not pertain to him. For those who here confusing him with the messiah he said: “I am not the messiah!” (John 1:20). He went further to state that the messiah is greater than him. On the day of Christ’s baptism he also displayed a heart touching humility by asking Christ to rather baptize him. (Matt. 3:14). We are called upon to reflect humility always in our lives. One of the best ways to achieve this is to know our positions and maintain them.
- Truth was the hallmark of John’s ministry. We all know that he came to bear witness to the truth. Of course our Lord is the Truth itself (Jn. 14:6). His martyrdom was entirely on account of the truth (Matt. 14:1-12). Our advertence to the truth must be in season and out of season. Truth must always be told because it exalts God.