Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist, Sunday, June 24th, 2012.
126 was the number of our house when I was growing up, in Dublin. And John 1:26 was the number of the text of Scripture in the first sermon I ever gave (a practice one,- and in Irish- in our seminary days! ) in the Redemptorist House of Studies, in Cluain Mhuire, Galway: ‘Tá in a sheasamh in bhúr measc duine nach n-aithin díbh!’,- ‘There is standing in the midst of you One whom you do not recognise!’,- the words of John the Baptist, the Pre-Cursor of Jesus, as he pointed towards Jesus of Nazareth who is the true Light. And he added, about Jesus, ‘He must increase, and I must decrease!’
And this Sunday, June 24th, is the Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist, to Elizabeth and to Zechariah. ‘He is to be called John’, said Zechariah,- and then he got his voice back, after nine months of silence! You’ll find it all there in St. Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 1.
Like any good evangelist, John pointed to Jesus of Nazareth as the One to follow, the One who was Sent.
Six months after John was born, Jesus was born. The Feasts (chosen because of the Summer and the Winter Solstices) fall just after the longest day (June 21), and then after the shortest day (December 21). Jesus is the Light of the World that is caught in darkness, and his birth heralds the beginning of the increase of Light in the World.
‘There is standing in the midst of you One whom you do not know!’ He is still here in the middle of us, but do we notice? As they say in Irish, ‘sin ceist!’,- that’s the question,- do I notice him, do we? The birth of John was the birth of the one who would point the world towards Jesus. Thanks, John!
P.S. See any bonfires last night, St. John’s Eve? Did you see any? Let us know. It’s a very ancient custom, certainly in parts of the West of Ireland, predating Christianity, celebrating the summer solstice. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Seamus Devitt C.Ss.R.