St. Rita Roman Catholic Church
1008 Maple Dr.
Webster, NY 14580
585-671-1100
Masses: Sat 5:00 pm
Sun 7:30; 9:00 (children's liturgy); 10:30 am
Mon-Fri 8:15 am
Reconciliation: Saturdays from 3:30-4:30 pm;
Wednesdays after morning Mass (about 8:45)
Office Hours: M-Th 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
Fri 9:00 to 12:00 pm

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass

 

JOHN HERALDED HIS COMING BY PROCLAIMING A BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE
 
This Sunday is the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Because this holy feast falls on a Sunday and not a weekday, we have two separate sets of readings - one for the Vigil Mass and one for Mass during the day. The link for the full readings for both Masses are listed below, but we will focus our attention on the blend of the readings for Saturday and Sunday.
 
John is considered the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets. Jesus said of him, "Of those born of women, none is greater than John the Baptist" (Matthew 11:11). Both first readings (Saturday and Sunday) make the point that like John, two of his precursors, Isaiah and Jeremiah, were formed and dedicated in the womb by God. All three would suffer greatly in their role in preparing the way of the Lord, and thus would also prefigure Christ.
 
In Saturday's first reading (Jeremiah 1:4-10), the Lord speaks to Jeremiah saying, 
"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." A reluctant Jeremiah protests to the Lord, "I know not how to speak; I am too young." But the Lord answered him, "Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD."
 
In Sunday's first reading, (Isaiah 49:1-6), Isaiah, like Jeremiah before him, recalls the words of God, 
"For now the LORD has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb, that Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him; and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD, and my God is now my strength! It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth."

In both our Gospel readings, we hear excerpts from Luke's infancy narrative (Luke 1:1-80) describing the events surrounding John's birth, interwoven into the story of Jesus' birth. In Saturday's Gospel reading (Luke 1:5-17), we hear of an elderly priestly couple (Zechariah and Elizabeth) who had no children for she was barren. One day, while in the temple sanctuary offering sacrifice, the Angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah, 

"Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. John will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn their hearts toward their children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord."

In Sunday's Gospel, (Luke 1:57-66, 80), we we hear of the actual birth of John and the events surrounding his naming.

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. 

In Sunday's Epistle reading (Acts 13:22-26), St. Luke describes how John herladed the coming of Jesus, proclaiming a baptism of repentance.

John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, 'What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.'

Our readings this weekend make mention of three great prophets who preceded John - Jeremiah, Isaac and Elijah. All four were great prophets and in their own right, preparing the way for the Lord and calling people back to God and to repentance. But it didn't end with John, or even the ultimate prophet, Jesus. It continues with us. By virtue of our Baptism in the Lord, we share in Christ's ministry of priest, prophet and king. It is now up to us to herald the coming of Jesus into our world, into the lives and hearts of all we meet, especially those closest to us.. 

  • Click HERE to read and reflect on the readings for the Vigil Mass, Saturday, June 23
  • Click HERE to read and reflect on the readings for the Mass during the day, Sunday, June 24
  • Click HERE to read and learn more about the distinct portraits of John the Baptist in all four Gospels.

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