Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist

Isaiah 49:1b-2

“The Lord called me from birth,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made 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.”

What a beautiful reading from today’s Liturgy of the Hours Morning Prayer! It reflects on St. John the Baptist, although it is also used to reflect on the Son of God. Before John was born, the Angel Gabriel announced to Zechariah, when he was serving the the Temple of Jerusalem, what his son’s name and future would be. Every day we celebrate this event by reading the Canticle of Zechariah. For John was called to proclaim to the world that the Messiah had come.

“You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Could this reading from Isaiah be also a reflection on the birth of every Christian? We are called by God at birth and then at baptism to be a message of hope to the world. We are called to speak out about the injustice and evil we see around us. We are called to announce the birth and death of Jesus, the Lamb of God. We are called to reflect and announce God’s mercy to sinners.

Psalm 139 tells us the God has known us from our beginnings:

Truly you have formed my innermost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…My soul also you knew full well; nor was my frame unknown to you, When I was made in secret…Your eyes have seen my actions, in your book they are all written, my days were limited before one of them existed.

If God sees and knows all of this, if He knows our name before we are even born, if He sees our actions and thoughts before they happen, if His actions formed us in our mother’s wombs, then He has created us for a purpose, as He did John the Baptist. What is my purpose? How do I fulfill God’s plans for me? Something to ponder today as I go about my work.

st John and Jesus with Mary

St John the Baptist pray for us!