The birth of St. John the Baptist. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building in the Virtue of Faith so he can hate the sin of disbelief and grow in faith and by growing in the Virtue of Truth so he can know and heroically proclaim Christ’s Truth.
4th Week of Advent – December 23 – Lk 1:57-66; Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist – June 24 – Mass during the Day – Lk 1:57-66, 80
After the Annunciation at which the Blessed Virgin Mary gave her fiat to be the Mother of God, and heard of the miraculous conception of her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth who was now six months pregnant, the Blessed Virgin Mary, almost certainly led and protected by St. Joseph, made the dangerous journey to the hill country of Judea to be with Elizabeth. The Blessed Virgin Mary, the “handmaiden of the Lord”, remained with the elderly Elizabeth for the final trimester of her pregnancy to comfort and perhaps assist in the birth of John the Baptist; Scriptures do not record if the Blessed Virgin Mary (and St. Joseph) were present at John’s circumcision.
After being barren her entire life and now past child-bearing age, Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy and the strange and sudden muteness of her husband Zechariah, caused by his disbelief when the Archangel Gabriel announced Elizabeth’s pregnancy (Lk 1:20), attracts great interest among the nearby villagers. When St. John the Baptist is born, it is both mysterious and a cause of great rejoicing among the people (Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist is June 24).
On the eighth day, consistent with the requirements of the Law, Zechariah, as male head of the household, fulfills his duty to have his son circumcised. When asked what the child’s name will be, Elizabeth, who had been informed by the mute Zechariah through gestures, speaks for him, saying, “…he shall be called John” (Hebrew, meaning “God is gracious”). Skeptical, and perhaps shocked, that Elizabeth has spoken for Zechariah, for it was the father’s sacred duty to name the child during the circumcision rite, those present turn to Zechariah, and are astonished when he confirms the child will indeed be called John, by writing John’s name. Immediately, Zechariah miraculously regains his speech and praises God, causing great fear among the neighbors. Even though still a newborn, John causes great commotion throughout the hill country as people wonder, “What then will this child be?”
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Jesus, the Son of God, is born into royal human lineage and has absolute Dominion over Creation with the Father and Holy Spirit. Marvel how the Divine King exercises His perfect Leadership by causing the miraculous birth and preparation of one of His key men, St. John the Baptist, who will be the long-awaited prophet who zealously and vehemently announces Christ’s public ministry (Lk 3).
Hate the sin of disbelief and grow in faith
Realize: While the consequences for the Mortal Sin of Disbelief in everyday life are less obvious than the muting of Zechariah, every man bears the loss of God’s grace for disbelief.
Believe: Reflect upon Faith (CCC 26, 142-143, 150, 1814-1816, 2087-2089).
Pray: St. Zechariah, Father of St. John the Baptist, pray that I might grow in the Virtue of Faith so I never fall into doubt or disbelief, I always have an unwavering confidence in God’s Divine Providence and His love for me, and I unconditionally accept God’s grace in all aspects of my life.
Build the Virtue of Patience
Realize: In contrast to the heroic faith and patience of Elizabeth and Zechariah, who waited a lifetime to miraculously conceive their son John the Baptist, men today demand instant gratification (streaming video, fast food, same-day delivery, instant information).
Believe: Reflect upon the Virtue of Patience (CCC 227, 736, 1466, 1832, 2104, 2219, 2522, 2533, 2613, 2668, 2772).
Pray: Jesus, Divine Patience, help me build the Virtue of Patience (a part of Fortitude) so I persevere with calmness and confidence in times of trial and stress, and I respond to others with Gentleness, Forbearance, and Self-control (Fruits of the Holy Spirit) when I am tempted to be impatient or annoyed at others.