Solemnity of the Birthday of Saint John the Baptist

Zechariah praying in the templeThere are two sets of readings for Mass today.  The first set of readings is for the Vigil Mass, and the second set of readings is for the Feast day itself.  I would like to reflect on the readings for the Vigil Mass today, because they are the scripture verses that seemed to speak to me the most.  (Jer 1:4-10; Ps 70: 1-6,15, 17; 1 Pt 1: 8-12; Lk 1:5-7)

I think it is important to pay attention to the scripture verses that “draw” you to them, because the words in sacred scripture are living words.  They aren’t just letters typed on paper or a computer screen.  These sacred words are inspired by God, from the creator of life itself.  God said His words would not return to Him void, but would accomplish His will (Is 55:11), and I believe that is true for us on a personal level as well.  So, let’s see where the Holy Spirit is leading us ….

I think the first part of the first reading is beautiful on so many levels:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
before you came to birth I consecrated you;”

This is of course a prophecy about the birth of John the Baptist, but these verses are also true for us.  Jesus said that every hair on our head is counted, and if so, then God surely knew us in the womb as well.  This should cause us to pause and reflect on the beauty of all life in the womb and to respect every little miracle of God’s creation.  All human life is sacred, whether their life is conceived in sin or sanctity, because only God can create life.  If a child is conceived in sin though, it is not the child’s fault but the parents.

That wasn’t the case in today’s readings for Mass.  The gospel tells us about the parents of Saint John the Baptist, Elizabeth and Zechariah.  The second verse in this reading said:  “Both were worthy in the sight of God, and scrupulously observed all the commandments and observances of the Lord.”

What is noteworthy about Zechariah and Elizabeth, is that Elizabeth could not conceive a child through natural means.  She was past the childbearing age.  Their sanctity was the reason that God answered their prayers for something that could only happen through His grace.  A miracle is what they needed and God blessed them with a child because of their loyalty to Him their entire lives.  And not just any child!  God blessed them with the child that would herald the coming of His very own son into the world.  When God answered their prayers, their “cup was overflowing”.

Not all of our prayers are answered by God though.  Some things we ask for are not the best thing for us, no matter how much we want them at the time.  Sometimes God has something even better in mind for us.  But sometimes, our prayers are not answered because they are not His will.  There is a reason and a purpose that He has in mind that we can not fully understand.  Like when Jesus died on the cross and cried out to his Father, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”  God did not answer Him, but allowed Him to suffer and die for our sake, even in the midst of his human weakness that surfaced during his profound suffering.

Human weakness is also something Zechariah suffered with too.  If you read the verses in the bible following today’s gospel you will see that Zechariah questioned the angel and did not actually believe God.  But, this was just a momentary glitch of human weakness.  This act did not accurately represent the lifetime of holiness that Zechariah had lived.  God knew this.  He still granted his prayer, even in spite of this moment of weakness.

Sometimes, in a moment of weakness, those that we love will also commit a sin.  There is of course many ways that human beings commit sin, but in today’s world what comes to mind after reading the scriptures today, is when a child is conceived out of wedlock.  We can be so judgmental about that sometimes, especially if it is a member of our family, extended family, friend or someone we look up to at church like a deacon’s child or prominent member of our parish.

I think that the way that the Holy Spirit has been guiding my words today, has been leading up to this point.  That some of the holiest people in the bible had moments of weakness that did not portray who they truly were.  God knew what kind of person they really were.  And, though He was certainly displeased with their human weakness, He still granted their prayers because of their deep faith and love for Him.  Zechariah regained his holiness after John the Baptist was born, and “his cup runneth over.”  God blessed him and his wife beyond their wildest dreams with a new little baby in their family.

This should give us hope for ourselves and cause us to not be judgmental of others when they too, suffer a moment of weakness.  We are all imperfect, but our momentary lapses in holiness are not who we really are, and they do not always accurately portray the holiness of others either.

About the Author

Welcome to A Catholic Moment! My name is Laura Kazlas and I'm the creator and founder of A Catholic Moment. Catholics read a lot of different things on the internet these days, but this website is a place for Catholics to read, reflect, and discuss the daily readings for Mass. Our website is run entirely by a group of volunteer writers who have a genuine love for the scriptures that we have for Mass each day. I was personally raised by atheists, but came to believe in God and was baptized because of the words in sacred scripture. I later became a Catholic because of the Mass. The first time my husband took me to Mass, I thought it was the most holy, beautiful sense of worshiping God that I had ever experienced. I still do. My husband John and I have been married for 30 years. We have a son, a daughter, two granddaughters, and a cat. I currently serve as the coordinator of Catholic prison ministry in the Archdiocese of Portland Oregon, in the USA.

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4 Comments

  1. I love your website so much it help me a lot and i want to know more about the word of GOD. i’m so happy that i found your website, im a Catholic and also serving here in our Parish. I’m excited to read daily scripture and the Gospel. I’m very much inspired by the word of GOD. Thank you so much for the Knowledge you impart to all the people, God Bless you all.

  2. Thank you Ma’am for being inspired by Gods plan for you and all the readers by being a catholic and professing faith on the internet.
    we all have multiple moments of weakness.. as an obstetrician I deal with life inside and outside the womb and try my hardest despite my moments of weakness making people realise how beautiful this gift of life is….
    wishing all the readers out here a happy and blessed feast of St John the Baptist… May each of us find our missions in life and work through it to serve the Lord.

  3. I pray that through today’s reflection that God in his infinite mercy and love will overlook our moment of weakness and still grant us our heart desires. Thank you so much for today’s reflection may God continue to bless the voluntary work of your hands Amen.

  4. The Catholic Moment site is an inspiration to me each day during my workweek! Thank you for the spiritual insights. Blessings and May God continue to inspire you in your works.

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