Thursday, June 21, 2012

"John is his name."

This Sunday, June 24, 2012, we leave the rotation of the Sundays of the Year for a celebration of the Calendar Feast Day: the celebration of the Birth of John the Baptist. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

This feast is put near the first day of summer because from midsummer on, the days do decrease until the arrival of Christ at Christmas when they increase again. Following a sort of theological logic in this, John the Baptist proclaimed that he must decrease and the Lord must increase. This he did, Fr. Ron Rolheiser explains, after seeing how Jesus' power worked. John then understood, accepted a deeper truth, stepped back in self-effacement, and pointed people in Jesus' direction with the words: He must increase and I must decrease. I'm not even worthy to untie his scandal strap!

What's in a Name?

In this Gospel there is a bit of a wrangle about the naming of John the Baptist and we need to go back a few pages in Luke’s story to remind you why. The Archangel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and told him the name of his son would be John. Why John? Alex McAllister SDS explains that the name John is made up of two words that when combined means “Yahweh has shown favor.” St. John enjoyed God’s favour because he was chosen to play a crucial role in the salvation of the world.

The angel Gabriel appeared also to Mary, frightening her with an announcement of her holiness, and the blessedness of her womb, since it would bear the holiest child of all. The name of that child would be what we today know as “Jesus, which in the Hebrew and Aramaic means "Yahweh is salvation.”

A fascinating story, but what does this mean to us today? Fr. John Foley, S. J. suggests that God has a special name for each one of us, one he calls us by in the depths of our heart. It is a name that—if we can hear it and speak it with our lives—will make us who we are supposed to be, and make us the carriers of God’s name itself to others.

We are reminded to pray again for the faith to recognize the divine presence in our lives, to trust in God's tender mercy with an undivided heart, and to bless God always and everywhere with a glad and grateful heart. And it is only as a grateful expression of trust that God's will is to love us, Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB adds, can we with confidence truly pray, "Thy will be done."

Jesus and John the Baptist

Fr. Charles Irvin offers some some more interesting parallels involving John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. Both the birth of Jesus Christ and the birth of John the Baptist were surrounded by angels. Each of their births were mysterious; each accompanied by special acts of God. John the Baptist and his cousin Jesus had God-given names announced by God’s angels. They were not given their names by their families. Jesus and John were both unexpectedly conceived in their mother’s wombs. They were not conceived and born in the normal ways we would ordinarily expect.

A sermon by early Church father St. Augustine of Hippo also reflected on the birth of John the Baptist to bring out the similarities and contrasts between the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and that of his cousin, who is the bridge between the old and New Testaments. Now reflect on this basic Catechetical Burning Question. If St. John the Baptist is is considered to be one of the very highest among the saints, did his soul immediately go to heaven after his death?

When John was born, his father Zechariah, his voice restored, proclaimed a great truth, “You, my child, shall be called the Prophet of the Most High.” The song, or Canticle of Zechariah, is prayed every day by the entire Church as part of the Morning Prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours, or Divine Office. This prayer, Joseph Pellegrino explains, reminds us both of the central event of mankind, the Christ Event, and of our call to join John in proclaiming the Truth. For when we proclaim the Truth, we proclaim Jesus Christ.

The Herald of Freedom

This year the Birth of John the Baptist has an additional importance. It comes at the beginning of the Fortnight for Freedom. During these fourteen days before Independence Day our US bishops are asking us to study, give thanks and pray for religious freedom. And it's appropriate that this Sunday we celebrate the great herald of freedom - John the Baptist. He points the way to ultimate freedom - Jesus. And, Phil Bloom adds, the Baptist teaches the steps to freedom: Virtue ("repent"), Solidarity ("share with the poor") and, when government encroaches on basic freedoms, push back.

Today, June 22, also marks the feast of one such person who did push back and paid dearly. St. Thomas More of England. Born in 1477, he at one time was one of King Henry VIII's most trusted ministers. He was ordered beheaded By King Henry VIII in 1535. In this excerpt from a letter this brave saint wrote to his daughter Margaret from his prison cell, he explains why he defended -- to his death -- the teachings of the Catholic Church and why his faith forced him to resist the King's divorce from Catherine of Arragon and remarriage to Ann Bolyn.

Msgr. Charles Pope notes that just like 500 years ago during Thomas More's time, today's Church cannot evade the fact that we will often be called to be a sign of contradiction. The world will try and shame us, try to cause us to experience guilt through indignant outcries and labels such as: Rigid, backward, conservative, right wing, left-wing, fundamentalist, homophobic, judgmental, intolerant, harsh, mean-spirited, hateful and so on. And we the faithful in the Church will often be required to suffer for our proclamation.

Why will Catholicism always make sense? Devin Rose says the answer is five simple words - Because God Guides the Church. He protects her from error on her doctrines. Not just on the canon of Scripture but on all things concerning the Faith. This is consistent. And so as we move toward the Fourth of July, Fr. John J. Ludvik says may each of us continue to revere and to pray for religious freedom in our country.

Catholicism, Baptism & the Eucharist

The U.S. bishops have announced this week a plan to revise the New Testament of the New American Bible so a single version can be used for individual prayer, catechesis and liturgy. “The goal is to produce a single translation,” said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C. on June 14.

From the Vatican, Benedict XVI says we need to get used to being with God. The pope explained that it is normal and beneficial to ask for things from God in prayer. But, he added, we must also remember to praise him and thank him for his many gifts. And since we are celebrating the feast of the Baptist, Sandro Magister thought appropriately explains why Baptism is so central in the preaching of Benedict XVI. He also offers links to the entire "corpus" of the baptismal homilies of Benedict XVI: the seven he has given so far on the Sundays of the Baptism of Jesus, and the other seven of the Easter Vigils.

Meanwhile, Mark Shea offers his "Meditations on the Rosary: The Institution of the Eucharist." He writes that if the Eucharist is the "source and summit" of our Faith (in other words, God) then it is supremely the Eucharist to which Mary is referred and to which she refers us. For the Eucharist is Jesus. Mary is, very literally, the Mother of the Eucharist. It's from her that Jesus took the flesh which was transfigured, crucified, raised from the grave, glorified — and which is now offered to us as food and drink. Think about that.

Discouragement Busters, Etc.

Have you ever wondered why we get so upset when things don’t go as we painstakingly plan in life? Rita A Schulte, LPC, host of the Heartline Podcast "Consider This," offers a set of remedies she aptly calls "Discouragement Busters." While Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, co-directors of the Center for Relationship Development at Seattle Pacific University (SPU), talks about a groundbreaking program dedicated to teaching the basics of good relationships. I know some couples who say they never fight and that makes me all the more nervous about my relationship. Does having conflicts mean that we're destined for trouble? They have the answer. has a photo essay featuring the collected wisdom of their Facebook fans who answered the question: "What do you wish you knew as a teen?" They got a wide variety of answers, some good, some so-so, some of it just amusing. Jennifer Fulwiler shares a couple of excerpts from the essay plus her own personal list.

And finally, would you like to know the best site for finding airfares? How do you score free upgrades? Will anyone actually try to call your bluff when you claim a bogus bereavement fare? No one is better suited to answer these questions than an experienced flight reservation agent. Chris Morran gives us "5 Tips From A Delta Reservation Agent." Booking your airline tickets will never be the same again.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief
BURNING QUESTION: Did John the Baptist go to heaven right after death?
FEATURED BLOG: How living near your Church can transform your life
PASTORAL HISPANA: El nacimiento de San Juan Bautista

Post a comment.
Follow us on Twitter
Click Here to receive a FREE SUBSCRIPTION to this weekly email

No comments:

Post a Comment