A blessed Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist to you! This Solemnity falls where it does on the calendar because it is now precisely six months till Christmas! Now that you've had a moment to gasp please continue reading.
This is indeed a rare type of solemnity in the Church. A saint is usually commemorated on their "Dies Natalis". or birthday into eternal life, i.e. their death. Only three times during the year does the Church celebrate, in a solemnity, an earthly birthday: for the Lord Jesus at Christmas, for the Blessed Virgin Mary at Marymas, and for St. John the Baptist, on Johannistag (in German). This should remind us just how important he is to our salvation history.
The events surrounding his conception and birth are nearly as wondrous and full of Mystery as that of the birth of Our Lord. In both accounts an angel announced a coming birth, there were parents who had not planned on it, and a name for the child was chosen by God.
Zechariah, who had been rendered speechless (literally speechless, mute, because he doubted the message of the angel) and Elizabeth break their family tradition by calling John, the name chosen for him by God. "He will be called John."
John means "gift of God,"it can also mean "graced by God," or "God is gracious."
John's task in life will be to live a life of penance for a sinful world, calling sinners to repentance, to foretell the coming of the Christ, the Messiah, pointing him out when he arrives "there is the lamb of God!" and baptizing him.
After baptizing Jesus, John will utter the words "he must increase, and I must decrease." He will be arrested by King Herod and his blood shed in testimony to the Light
That is why his birth is celebrated in the heat and light of June. The summer solstice has just taken place. That is the longest day of the year, the sun rises at it's earliest, and sets at it's latest. From now on the days will grow darker, they will decrease, but our attention will be drawn to a distant star of winter. And at that time, when all seems to be utter darkness, a Light will come, and the days will grow longer again at the winter solstice, the darkest day, they will increase.
May Saint John the Baptist be our powerful intercessor and friend when we need to be pointed in the right direction, when our egos and pride need to decrease to let the Lord increase, when our hearts need returning to the Light that never fades, Jesus Christ the Lord.
God bless you all, Father Robert Letona There will be no Mass June 28th or 29th, all priests will be in LaCrosse for Priest Unity Days.
If you've ever wanted to see how a priest becomes a priest, come the Ordination of Deacon Kyle Laylan from Tomah and Deacon Barry Saylor at the Cathedral of Joseph the Workman in LaCrosse on Saturday June 30th at 10 am.