Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist Mass during the Day
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist Mass during the Day

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Readings: Isa 49:1-6, Acts 13:22-26; Lk 1:57-66, 80.

1/ First Reading: NAB Isaiah 49:1 Hear me, O coastlands, listen, O distant peoples. The LORD called me from birth, from my mother's womb he gave me my name. 2 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. 3 You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory. 4 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. 5 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! 6 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.

2/ Second Reading: NAB Acts 13:22 Then he removed him and raised up David as their king; of him he testified, 'I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.' 23 From this man's descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus. 24 John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; 25 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.' 26 "My brothers, children of the family of Abraham, and those others among you who are God-fearing, to us this word of salvation has been sent.”

3/ Gospel: NAB Luke 1:57 When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother said in reply, "No. He will be called John." 61 But they answered her, "There is no one among your relatives who has this name." 62 So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. 63 He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name," and all were amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. 65 Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. 66 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. 80 The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.


I. THEME: John Baptist’s mission is to show people the way to the Lord.

            When studying a human body, the scientists are very surprise about the structure and the functions of every organ, such as: brain, eyes, ears, lungs, heart, etc., and even more surprise about the harmonious actions of all organs in nourishing and protecting of human life. Similarly when we study God’s plan of salvation, we are surprise about God’s arrangement in preparing for humankind the Messiah to bring salvation to all people. There are people who appeared before him to prepare for his coming, such as: Abraham, king David, prophet Isaiah, etc. There is people who appeared at the same time with him to introduce him to people, such as: John Baptist. There are people who came after him to preach his Gospels and to witness for him, such as: the apostles, the Church and the martyrs. Through all generations, God continually sends prophets, saints and the faithful to bring salvation to people by their preaching of the Good News. St. Paul had a reason when he compared the whole humankind as members of one body which is the Church and Christ as the head. We are members of Christ’s body and all have a duty to contribute to bring life for his Mystical Body.

            Today readings of the Nativity of St. John Baptist show us God’s mysterious arrangement in preparing for humankind the Suffering Servant to redeem sins and to bring salvation to all people. In the first reading, known as the second song of God’s Suffering Servant, the prophet Isaiah reported the way God prepared and educated the Suffering Servant and gave them a mission with two goals: to bring glory for Israel and to become the light of salvation to all nations. In the second reading, the Acts reported partly St. Paul’s sermon at Antioch, Pisidia. Paul wanted his audience to fathom God’s plan of salvation which was reported in the Books of the prophets and the Psalms. God promised to give the Messiah to humankind from David’s lineage and John Baptist prepared, witnessed and introduced him to people so that they might believe in him and have salvation. In the Gospel, St. Luke reported the mysterious things which happened around John Baptist’s birth. All these things pointed to the fact that God chose him to be the Messiah’s herald to prepare people to welcome Christ. John Baptist spent all his life to fulfill his mission and to witness for Christ.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The Suffering Servant must greatly suffer to fulfill God’s plan of salvation.

1.1/ God prepares the Messiah for humankind right from the beginning: God knows that human beings can’t save themselves, no matter what they try to do, so He prepares the Suffering Servant to redeem people’s sins and to bring salvation. One question was put out by scholars when they studied this passage, “Who is the Suffering Servant which Isaiah implied here?” There are at least three opinions:

            (1) Some said it is Cyrus, the Persian king; for God used him to save the Israelites and to let them go back to their country after the Exile. This opinion isn’t right because the mission of the Suffering Servant isn’t only to save Israel but also to become the light of salvation to all people (v. 6).

            (2) Some said it is Israel (collectively used as one person) as in v.3. This opinion doesn’t have a good basis because Israel can’t liberate themselves due to their sins, they need God’s power. Moreover, the Israelites themselves never think that they shall become the light for the nations and bring God’s salvation to the end of the earth because they think the Gentiles shall never inherit God’s salvation.

            (3) The majority of scholars and the Church agreed that the title “Suffering Servant” was used by Isaiah to indicate the Messiah is Christ, God’s Suffering Servant. Isaiah described the Suffering Servant as follows:

            + He is in God’s plan of salvation from the beginning: “Hear me, O coastlands, listen, O distant peoples. The Lord called me from birth, from my mother's womb he gave me my name.” This sentence pointed to Jesus’ birth by the Blessed Virgin Mary (Isa 7:14; Mt 1:23).

            + He is trained and protected by God: ''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.'' God prepares for the Messiah but He only shows him to people at the proper time.

            + He must greatly suffer but shall certainly be victorious: “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!”

           

1.2/ The Suffering Servant’s mission: There are two goals for his mission:

            (1) “To raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel:” This is his first goal because God first chose the Israelites to prepare for the Messiah’s coming. In the Gospel, when a Gentile woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter, he answered: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt 15:24). When Jesus sent out his disciples to preach the Good News, he commanded them: “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt 10:5-6).

            (2) To be “a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth:” This is his second goal. Simeon repeated Isaiah’s words when he prophesized about the Infant Jesus: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel” (Lk 2:29-32). Though Christ rarely went out of the Israel’s boundary to preach the Good News for the Gentiles; but he trained, prepared and sent them out with this command; “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit” (Mk 28:19). When the Gentiles believed in Christ, Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled.

2/ Reading II: God sent to Israel the Savior which is Christ.

2.1/ The remote preparation: God’s promise to give the Messiah from David’s lineage. Today passage from the Acts is a part of Paul’s sermon at Antioch in Pisidia. Paul wanted to use history to demonstrate to his audience that Christ originated from David’s descendants: “Then he removed him (Saul) and raised up David as their king; of him he 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.” We can find similar statements like this in almost all the prophetic Books, especially in Isaiah and the Psalms.

           

2.2/ The near preparation: John Baptist witnessed that Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promise which is to give people the Messiah. Paul described John Baptist’s mission as followed: “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.'”

            And Paul convinced his audience: “My brothers, children of the family of Abraham, and those others among you who are God-fearing, to us this word of salvation has been sent.”

 

3/ Gospel: "What, then, will this child be?" For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.

3.1/ The mysterious things which happened around John Baptist’s birth:

            (1) Both Zachariah and Elisabeth are the elders: According to natural cycle, a woman can only have a child between a certain limit of age; when she is over this limit, she can’t have a baby. However, when God intervenes, the advanced woman can have a baby. The Old Testament reported at least three cases in which God intervened: Abraham and Sarah had Isaac; the parent of Sampson; the parent of the prophet Samuel; and today, Zachariah and Elisabeth.

            (2) Zachariah was unable to talk and he talked again: He was mute because he didn’t believe in the angel’s words. He didn’t think that his wife can have a baby because both of them were advanced in age. In today report, when people asked him for the name of his child, 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.

            (3) Naming of the child: Name is the person. Depending on the parent’s wish for their baby’s future or to memorize the special event around their child’s birth, they shall name him correspondingly. For example, if the parent have a child when they are advanced in age, they shall name the child “God’s grace.” The name “John” is an abbreviation of two words in Hebrew, “Jeho-hannah,” which means “God’s gift or grace.” Both Zachariah and Elisabeth wanted to name him as such because they firmly knew that he was God’s gift to them; even though their relatives questioned, "There is no one among your relatives who has this name."

3.2/ John Baptist’s mission:

            (1) Parents, relatives and neighbors recognized God’s hand in John Baptist’s life from the beginning: St. Luke reported: “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.”

            (2) John Baptist prepared for people to welcome Christ: Studying about John Baptist’s life in the Gospel, we can learn at least four lessons from his life: First, he dedicated all his life to fulfill his mission. In order to do this, he lived a simple life, free of material slavery: He lived in deserts, wore camel hair, ate grasshoppers and wild honey. He had lots of time for preaching. Secondly, he prepared people’s mind to welcome Christ by preaching that leads to repentance before he baptized them. Thirdly, he was very truthful and concise, not afraid of anyone. When someone asked if he is the Messiah, he answered that he was only a voice cried out in deserts and not worthy to untie the Messiah’s sandals. Lastly, he poured out blood to witness for the truth. King Herode beheaded him because he prevented his illegal marriage with Philip’s wife.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - God prepares His plan of salvation from the beginning of the human history. According to this plan, we must believe in Christ who redeemed us from our sins and bring us the salvation.

            - All of us have a mission when God creates us, not accidentally nor for no purpose. Our mission is to help people to believe in Christ so that they can inherit salvation through our preaching the Good News and by living a righteous life.

            - We must imitate John Baptist to prepare for people to welcome Christ, not to ourselves or other figures.

            - To accomplish our mission, we must greatly sacrifice and suffer as Christ and John Baptist did.

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