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Devotional thoughts for the Sunday of the birth of St. John the Baptist

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  • Jose Kurian Puliyeril
    Reading: From the Gospel according to St. Luke 1: 57 – 80 Dear and Respected Brethren, The Holy Church is celebrating the Birthday of St. John the Baptist,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 2007
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      Reading: From the Gospel according to St. Luke 1: 57 – 80

      Dear and Respected Brethren,

      The Holy Church is celebrating the Birthday of St. John the Baptist,
      who was born to Priest Zechariah and Elizabeth, at their old age as
      a gift and a special blessing, and mercy of God Almighty. St. John,
      the so-called forerunner of our Lord and Savior was blessed to
      identify and enjoy the presence of our Lord and His blessed mother,
      when our Lord as well as St. John were in the wombs of their
      mothers. We cannot find such a rare blessing in the entire Holy
      Bible or in the history. The birth of St. John was a real mystery
      and a miracle When Elizabeth gave birth to her son, her neighbors as
      well as her relatives realized the greatness in the birth as a great
      mercy of God Almighty. So they praised God. (Vs 58) The neighbors
      and relatives might have witnessed the events followed by the visit
      of St. Mary to the residence of Elizabeth. That might be the reason
      for them to react in the positive way and manner. If we were in
      their place what would have been our response? We might release
      certain funny comments instead of praising God.

      In our lives how many blessings and mercies do we enjoy from God
      Almighty? Do we recognize them all as gifts and mercies of the
      loving God or are we counting them as the net results of our hard
      work? Let us take a decision that we would be ever and ever grateful
      to God Almighty for His mercies, blessings, care and love, in the
      future. On the 8th day the neighbors and the relatives reached there
      and named the infant as John. They did so, though against their
      tradition and practice, honoring God Almighty's will. (Refer St.
      Luke 1{13) The get together of relatives and neighbors during the
      baptism, and other sacraments and events in our homes are based on
      this Biblical incident. Those who assembled at the house are
      representatives of the Holy Church. We should not forget the truth
      that the Holy church is only empowered to administer the Sacraments.

      In verse 64 we read " And his mouth was opened immediately and his
      tongue loosed, and he spoke and praised God". St. Luke describes
      that all these sayings were noised abroad, throughout all the
      hillside of Judea. (Vs. 65) But all those who were near Zechariah
      got fear. In verse 66 we read, "And all they that heard these laid
      them in their hearts." This is how St. Mary had stored so many
      incidents and events in her heart as mentioned in St. Luke 2: 19.
      The relatives and neighbors of Zechariah and Elizabeth
      exclaimed, "What manner of child shall be this". From the very
      moment they might have heard the conversations between Elizabeth and
      St. Mary, they might have been waiting with eagerness to see the new
      born. Their surprise might have doubled when they heard the name of
      the infant. See the next sentence in our reading. "And the hand of
      God was with him". The Holy Spirit in us is always giving us
      instructions and guidance to proceed in God's ways. And at seldom
      occasions only we do give priority for God's will and wish. Let us
      try to give top priority to God and His wish in every deal and
      everyday. In verse 67 we listen that Zechariah was filled with the
      Holy Spirit and as a result he was able to deliver the prophecy.
      First he spoke about the arrival of our Lord Jesus. In verse 67 we
      read that our Lord's arrival was to "perform the mercy promised to
      our fathers." In Leviticus 26: 42 we could see to which fathers God
      had made the covenant. There we read, "I will remember my covenant
      with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac and also my covenant
      with Abraham". Priest Zechariah is claiming that our Lord Jesus
      incarnated to the holy covenant and the oath made with our father
      Abraham (verse 72) In Genesis 12: 3 and as well as in Hebrews 6:13
      we could see the details of the oath made with Abraham, the father
      of all the faithful.

      The rest of the prophecy of Priest Zechariah is very significant for
      us also. We have to take them seriously to enrich our spirituality.
      He advises everyone to serve the one who deliver us from all the
      enemies without fear. (see verse 74) In Romans 6: 18, St. Paul
      exhorts us about the freedom from sin and the one who makes us free.
      In Hebrews 9:14 we are cautioned likewise. We read "How much more
      shall the blood of Jesus who through the eternal spirit offered
      himself without spot to God purge your conscience from dead works to
      serve the living God".

      We might doubt how to serve God without fear. The answer is given
      by our Lord Jesus Himself in St. John 12: 26. "If any man serve me,
      let him follow me." Now let us think whether we could serve Him
      better Let us follow Him by obeying Him and accepting Him as our
      Lord, God and Savior.

      May the intercession of St. John the Baptist be a fort of protection
      for all of us especially our infants. May God bless us all.

      Jose Kurian Puliyeril
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