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The Nativity of St John the Baptist

My dear friends,

The 1st Reading from Isaiah is part of what is known as ‘The call of the Servant’. But who is the ‘Servant’? Amongst the biblical commentators there are differing views on this. Some think it is a reference to the nation of Israel (verse 3) while others think it is the prophet Isaiah himself. This debate aside, we can see similarities between the 1st Reading and other parts of the Old Testament.

The Servant, who is called from the womb (v.5), is reminiscent of the calling of the prophet Jeremiah – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” (Jer. 1:5). Additionally, the commissioning of the Servant follows a traditional pattern already found in the call of Moses: God makes the commission, Moses protests his inadequacy, but God reassures him. Thus, the calling and mission of the Servant in the 1st Reading (be it a nation of people or a single person), is like that of the great prophets.

However, it’s all well and good being called and given a mission, but the crux of it all is how one responds to that, how one realises it in one’s life. The direction of where God wants the Servant to go is obvious, he wants him (and us) to embrace the mission! When God’s calling is embraced and acted upon then we, like the Servant, will be a “light to the nations”, a force of change for the good. In the 2nd Reading, St Paul tells us that God chose and called David, and how he would carry out God’s “purpose”. Jesus, of David’s line, is the fulfilment of God’s promise and purpose. John the Baptist heralded the coming of Jesus and urged repentance as a preparation to receive the Lord and the salvation that He brings.

In the gospel we hear the account of the birth of John the Baptist, and the days that followed. Although John the Baptist longed to encounter the Messiah, the chosen one of God, he also wanted others to encounter Him, hence his ministry of preaching. We see in these readings many facets of what the name ‘Christian’ means: we are all called by God to be His servants; we are to be prophetic in how we live, pointing others to God; we are called to be a “light to the nations”. And, for all this to be realised, we need to be seeking encounters with the Lord.

All of this is especially pertinent for those receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation this weekend; we pray that they may faithfully and authentically live this very particular way of life. Administering the Sacrament is Bishop Alan who we gratefully and warmly welcome to our parish this weekend.

Wishing you every blessing!

Fr Brett


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