Friday, June 24, 2016

Bishop’s Note: June 23, 2016 – Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Bishop Eric Menees

“Almighty God, by whose providence your servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of your Son our Savior by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his teaching and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and, following his example, constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

This is the collect for tomorrow, when we will celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. This is a feast day that often goes without much thought or fanfare, but I would like to encourage you to take the time and mark the day.

Two major themes are woven into this feast day: the end of barrenness, and the birth of a mighty prophet.

How incredibly powerful it must have been for Zechariah and Elizabeth, after so many years of hoping and praying for a child, to discover that their faithfulness was to be rewarded, even in their old age. You can imagine that all of this became clearer to Elizabeth with the visitation of her niece, Mary, when the baby in her womb leapt in the presence of the savior, even in utero.

However, this event also reminds us of the end of a sorrowful barrenness for the world. From the fall of our first parents - Adam and Eve - sorrow, illness, and death had no real answer. With the supernatural conception of John the Baptist, God spoke mightily into the world offering hope and grace: “Prepare the way of the Lord.”

On this feast day we give thanks to almighty God for His immeasurable love and goodness, proclaiming an end to the power of death, and the return of that eternal life originally intended for creation prior to the fall.  

St. John the Baptist would grow into a mighty man of God, who would serve as an example to all of us. John called the people of Israel to repent and turn to the Lord. He reminded the people of Israel that God’s love was all-powerful, and that His redemption would overturn the reign of death for all of those who would turn to and accept the Messiah of God!

Let us take strength in the witness of St. John the Baptist, and proclaim to all who will listen the same message of the forgiveness of sin offered through Jesus the Messiah, and the eternal life found in his resurrection!

I pray you all a truly blessed Feast Day, and a wonderful week!

Catechism Questions: 301-304

301. What is the Sixth Commandment?
The Sixth Commandment is: “You shall not murder.”

302. What does it mean not to murder?
Since God declares human life sacred from conception to natural death, I may not take the life of neighbors unjustly, bear them malice in my heart, or harm them by word or deed; rather, I should seek to cause their lives to flourish. (Genesis 9:6; Leviticus 19:16; Deuteronomy 19:4-7)

303. How did Christ cause life to flourish?
Jesus sought the well-being of all who came to him: he made the blind see and the deaf hear, caused the lame to walk, cured the sick, fed the hungry, cast out demons, raised the dead, and preached good news to all. (Luke 4:17-21;Matthew 14:13-21, 34-36)

304. How did Jesus extend the law against murder?
Jesus equated unjust anger with murder. (Matthew 5:21-22; 1 John 3:15)

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