In his Gospel, Luke writes of John the Baptist: “I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28). Today, June 24, we commemorate the birth of John the Baptist into the history of salvation. As we rejoice in that celebration, we must ask ourselves how this feast points us toward that entry into the kingdom of God.
John was the forerunner of Jesus, his most special herald who prepared the way of the Lord. John is also a model and guide for each of us as we prepare ourselves to be contemporary heralds of the presence of Jesus in the world today.
In the first reading for the solemnity, from Isaiah, the prophet proclaims: “The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.” And God said, “I will make you the light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:1-6).
The mission of John and his calling is found in his very name — John — which means “Yahweh is gracious.” He was to proclaim a God who is benevolent, merciful and compassionate — the essential features of a gracious person — and he did so by the actions of his daily life until his very last breath.
John the Baptist was the light for all who longed for the peace of God’s kingdom — the light which allowed salvation to be seen and accepted in the person of Jesus. Each person baptized into the life and death of Jesus Christ is called to accept this same prophetic mission to be the light of salvation shining to the ends of the earth. The work of transforming this world into the kingdom of God is an ever-evolving work in progress.
Pope Francis reminds us in his message for this year’s World Day of the Poor that “[t]he poor save us because they enable us to encounter the face of Jesus Christ” and “if the disciples of the Lord Jesus wish to be genuine evangelizers, they must sow tangible seeds of hope. We are called to touch his flesh and to be personally committed in offering a service that is an authentic form of evangelization.” As Catholics, may we be those prophets of hope through our service to the poor!
Cross Catholic Outreach is a Catholic ministry that mobilizes the global Catholic Church to transform the poor and their communities materially and spiritually for the glory of Jesus Christ. Your donation supports the lifesaving work of Catholic missionaries and ministries around the world already serving the material and spiritual needs of the poor through feeding programs, clean water projects, education and so much more.
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