Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Daily - 6/23/09

Luke 1:57-66, 80 - Solemnity of John the Baptist

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.

67 Then Zechariah his father, filled with the holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:

68 "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and brought redemption to his people.

69 He has raised up a horn for our salvation within the house of David his servant,

70 even as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old:

71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us,

72 to show mercy to our fathers and to be mindful of his holy covenant

73 and of the oath he swore to Abraham our father, and to grant us that,

74 rescued from the hand of enemies, without fear we might worship him

75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

76 And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

77 to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,

78 because of the tender mercy of our God by which the daybreak from on high will visit us

79 to shine on those who sit in darkness and death's shadow, to guide our feet into the path of peace."

80 The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.

Greetings from cool Milwaukee. 85 degrees yesterday. :) I've included verses 67-79 along with tomorrow's gospel reading because they give a great description of John the Baptist (JTB). If you happen to read Magnificat magazine, these verses are the "Canticle of Zechariah" that is part of each morning prayer.

JTB is the last of the prophets, and the one who got to meet Christ in the flesh. He was the one who recognized the Holy Spirit descending upon Christ "like a dove", and performed the baptism that initiated Christ's three-year mission.

JTB preached repentance. In my opinion, that term is almost entirely lost today, and has been replaced by being "sorry." Those are two different things. Repentance is changing your path -- turning away from what Christ calls "the world", and choosing to follow Christ. "Sorry" means something far less. We see this in our kids (and ourselves) all the time. It essentially recognizes that we've done something wrong, but it really doesn't say ANYTHING about future intents. That's a huge difference.

What JTB preached, and Christ after him, is repentance. When we go to Reconciliation, that's what it's all about. We shouldn't be going to confession to just bow our heads, act meek, and say we did something bad, because we know God can see it. We should be going because we recognize we've strayed from the path -- the "constricted road" that Christ described in yesterday's reading -- and we need Christ to put us back on the path.

It took me a while to get that through my thick skull. I used to be scared of Reconciliation, to the point where there was a 25-year gap between my last confession of my youth, and the confession I made 16 months ago at CRHP. That confession changed my life. If you want proof, consider the fact that I'm even writing this message.