The Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist


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Hey everyone, guess what? It’s another feast day! Ha! I promise we don’t just have feast days in the Catholic Church, but this time of the year we’re loaded with them and this one is the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the birth of St. John the Baptist.

But before we get into the Gospel, I’d like to share a little bit of history so those of you who haven’t read the Bible or have any clue about what St. John the Baptist did or his role in the salvation of the world, I can fill in the blanks for you.

So here we go…

Zechariah and Elizabeth are married—they are devout Jews and have lived the commandments and the law ‘to the T.’ Zechariah is actually a priest and he and Elizabeth have been married for years. They are pretty old in their age and they’ve never had children, but they’ve prayed for a child for many, many decades to God.

One day Zechariah was appointed to be in the Temple for the Offering of Incense at the Altar while everyone else was outside the Temple praying. At the Alter, an Angel of the Lord came down to the right-hand side. It was Saint Gabriel, the Archangel and scared the living daylights out of Zechariah! And he says, “Oh, Zechariah it’s okay—God is going to answer your prayers. Elizabeth is going to be pregnant with a baby and his name will be John and he will bring you incredible joy and gladness. And everyone will be so overjoyed at his birth because he will be in favor with God. He will have no wine and no strong drink and he will bring many in Israel to the Lord our God. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even in the womb of Elizabeth and he will pave the way for Jesus. He will share that the Savior is coming. He will make the crooked path straight.”

Okay … Zechariah is like, “Wait a minute, man. You know how old I am? You know how old Elizabeth is? How am I going to know if this is true? And you know we’re not able to have children we are way, way past that age.”

And of course, the Archangel Gabriel looked at him and said, “Dude, really? Come on—this is GOD—anything’s possible with Him! But you know what? Since you don’t believe my words, I’m gonna take away your speech and you won’t get it back until all these things come to fruition. So thanks … See Ya.” And Zechariah walks out of the Temple and everybody is looking at him and he cannot speak. He can’t speak to them at all.

Then fast forward six months and you’re at Mary’s house with Mary. And lo and behold, an Angel of the Lord comes again—the Archangel Gabriel who says, “Mary, you have been in great favor with God,” and asks her to have the child of the Lord. And she says, “Well, how is this to be as I have no husband?” And he says, “The Holy Spirit will come and will be your spouse and you will conceive the child of God.” And she says, “All right, let it happen to me. I’m ready!” And at the same time the Archangel Gabriel says, “Oh, by the way, your cousin Elizabeth is six months pregnant—the one who’s barren, the one that’s pretty old. So anything is possible with GOD.” And Mary is like, “Are you kidding me? This is awesome.”

So Mary hightails it up to the hill country of Judea and goes into Elizabeth’s house. And Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, once she walks in says, “Whoa, to what do I owe the mother of our Lord to come into my house? And the moment I heard your voice in my ears, the baby in my womb lept with joy.”

That baby was St. John the Baptist, if you remember the Archangel Gabriel told Zechariah, he will be filled with the Holy Spirit—even in his mother’s womb. So this is how St. John ties to Mary and Jesus. And the only other time the Archangel Gabriel appeared was with Daniel, the Prophet Daniel, helping him with his visions in the Old Testament. So only three times and two major moments were in the New Testament.

So let’s read the Gospel, shall we? All right …

Gospel Luke 1:57-66, 80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
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.
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.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.

First Zechariah gets his speech back once all these things come to fruition, once he commits that his name is John—just as the Archangel Gabriel said, “His name will be John.” If you want to know what Zachariah said after he was able to speak and his blessings to God—check out The Canticle of Zechariah you have to scroll down to verse 67. It is awesome—a must read—and super short and to the point!

So, of course, everybody around them was thinking this guy is going to be something big. And he was … this is what I want you to think about. St. John the Baptist lived in the wilderness, he ate locusts and honey, never succumbing to the worldly pleasures and the things of what you and I love, right? All the creature comforts of this world! He stayed out in the wilderness and every day preached to the people of Israel, bringing them to him, and saying, “Be Baptized because the one who is coming, Jesus, will Baptize you with the Holy Spirit, for the redemption of your sins. He will save you.” John paved the way, made the crooked path straight.

That’s crazy! Yes, he had the Holy Spirit with him. Yes, John had a big following, but when Jesus came, he decreased and said, “Jesus is the one. I am not the Messiah. I am just helping you understand that He is coming.” So that is what we need to do and we have it easy because Jesus already came. Jesus already did a whole bunch of miracles and don’t forget that resurrection thing and then instituted this fabulous Catholic Church with all of the amazing sacraments, confession, the Eucharist and every day at Mass we can receive the Lord and can grow in holiness.

But we can’t keep it to ourselves. I saw a bumper sticker once … seriously, it was a bumper sticker and it said, “Keep the Faith—but not to yourself!” I mean that is brilliant! So get out there and profess the Savior of the World to the world. It’s our job as Christians to be disciples, to keep God center and most important in our life is the first commandment and then to love one another as he loves us. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Those two commandments are what we live for.

Please this week, don’t be shy about your Faith. Get out there spout about it in your own way. I’m sitting in front of a camera because I believe that that’s what God wants me to do. You might be praying at home for others or shining like the beacon of love and bringing people to you who ask, “Why are you so peaceful and joy-filled? How come you have love exuding from you?” Some of you may write, some of you may draw, some of you may make beautiful music or do other things. At the end of the day, you all have your own unique talents, but do not keep Faith inside. We want to bring a lot of people to heaven—everyone we possibly can—all of our loved ones! So get out there, be St. John the Baptist and pave the way.

I look forward to hearing from you and your comments and how your discipleship and sharing the word is actually going. Please tell me that you’re doing a little bit of that and in the meantime, live in the light of God—keep him the center of your life. Remember, without him, we can do nothing. And have a blessed and inspired week!

Kendra Von Esh

Kendra Von Esh is a Speaker, Faith Coach, and Author who has a passion to help others to deepen their relationship with God and the Catholic Faith.