Today’s Gospel Reading at the Sunday Mass comes from Luke 1:57-66, 80:
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?”
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.
On this first Sunday (Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist) of our Fortnight for Religious Freedom we encounter in this humble and holy saint the prototype and poster-child of a person who had the audacity to embrace their right from God to be precisely who they were created to be. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name” (Isaiah 49:1). In Jeremiah 1:5 we read the Lord say, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” We see this same scenario play out with the conception John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth; that God creates each of His children with a definitive purpose. You and I are no different than the prophets. We too were created by God and for God to know, love, and serve Him in this life, so that we might live in eternal happiness with Him in the next.
The purpose of this war being waged today by our earthly governments today to stop us from being who God has called us to be. Whenever governments crossover into the religious sphere and try to compel and force people to be something other than or to do something other than what God has called them to be and to do, it ignites a war. This type of war happens anytime and anywhere the word of a man inveighs the against the word of God.
More and more these days were are seeing that when governments take control of their citizen’s healthcare it inevitably leads to death; we see it in China with forced abortions; we saw it in North Carolina and 36 other states with forced sterilizations on black, young, and marginalized women, and we see it in the United Kingdom today where doctors are killing the elderly at alarming rates.
While the people of God are constantly trying to exercise love in the context of God’s definition and order, the world is constantly trying to redefine and reorder hate to pose as love, compassion and practicality. While the people of God are constantly trying to ensure that the Kingdom of God will come and that His will will be done, the world is constantly trying ensure that its own kingdom will come and its own will will be done.
According to Deuteronomy 7:6, we have been called to be liberated from who the world wants us to be, so that we might be all that God has created us to be: “For you are a people holy to the LORD, your God; the LORD, your God, has chosen you from all the peoples on the face of the earth to be a people specially his own.” Yet, government policies like President Barack Obama’s HHS Mandate, which forces Catholics to act against our Catholic conscience, and other people to also act against their faith formed conscience, posit the opposites. Marching down the path of Communism and Despotism, government actions like the HHS Mandate are grounded in the belief that the people belong to and are controlled by the central government.
What does it mean to be called to be a set-apart – to be a person specially His own? What it means is that in all that we are (mind, body, and soul) we must order our lives to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. It means that in every mode, means, and matter of dress, demeanor, words, thoughts, interactions, prayers, we must put God first, and also have the audacity champion our call to be who we were created to be in the face of adversity; even in the face of tyranny and persecution by governments that are bent to replace the face of God with its own images – to replace truth with relativism.
What would Saint John the Baptist be doing if he were with us today and living through this challenge to our Church? He would be calling Obama’s HHS Mandate exactly what it is and he would be pointing us to follow Christ Jesus at any cost; even if it should cost us our lives. Are you ready?
“O God our Creator,
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.