Thursday, June 21, 2012


Why is it that among all holy women and men of the Catholic Church, only Saint John the Baptist's birthday is celebrated solemnly in the liturgy of the Church? Of course, apart from Our Lord and Blessed Virgin Mary birthday celebrations. Not even Saint Joseph got his own birthday noted and celebrated in the liturgy. Weird. This speaks volumes about the importance of the life of Saint John the Baptist in the history of salvation. Apart from the birth of Jesus himself and his Mother, the birth of John the Baptist is the third most important birth in the scheme of redemption...Wow.

As I meditate on this theme, preparing my Sunday homily, the immense importance and value of life of Saint John comes to me with full force. The history of salvation is unfolding and will do so till Jesus comes for the second time. The importance of the life and the message brought by Saint John is ever valid and on time for all generations, including ours.

Chesterton's hymn comes to mind as I look for Saint Johns of our times. Where are they in 2012? Who are they? Are there any people on the face of the earth who inherited the spirit of Saint John, his courage and unrelenting outspokenness? Our times are in need of Saint John the Baptists. The following hymn composed some ten years before the outburst of the First World War describes best our times as well...

O God of earth and altar,
Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die.
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches,
From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches
That comfort cruel men.
From sale and profanation
Of honour and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord!

Tie in a living tether
The prince and priest and thrall,
Bind all our lives together,
Smite us and save us all;
In ire and exultation
Aflame with faith, and free,
Lift up a living nation,
A single sword to thee. Amen

As we celebrate the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, let us pray for Saint John Baptists for our times as well. If there was a period of the history of salvation that needed most his presence and message, it is ours.

1 comment: