“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”. ~Jeremiah 1
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
This past Tuesday our St. Rita School hosted their annual end of the year "Blue and Gold” field day celebration. Teachers, staff, and many volunteer parents provided assistance with outdoor games, grilled hot dogs, bagged fruit, potato chips, cookies and frozen ice treats. Visits from our local first responders during the event added to the excitement. It ended with the traditional "Tug of War" games between classes and even between former graduates of St. Rita School who came back to participate. Thank you to all the parents, the wonderful St. Rita school staff and our own students for another happy and successful academic year. Summer vacation time now begins!
This weekend we celebrate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. While we often focus on the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary and the subsequent birth of Christ as described in the Gospel of Luke, we also have many details about John the Baptist. In the very first chapter of the Gospel of Luke we read, "In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly." Both Elizabeth and Zechariah longed for a child but they were still childless and getting "along in years."
When Zechariah was chosen by lot to perform special duties at the temple, he suddenly sees an angel of the Lord standing at the altar and is fearful. "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard" said the angel. "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.”
Because of his stunned disbelief at what was said by the angel, Zechariah emerges from the temple unable to speak a single word until the day his son is born and he is named John.
Mary also heard that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant, so she traveled "in haste" to the country of Judah to assist. Upon Mary’s arrival, Elizabeth felt the infant stir in her womb leaping for joy. So even from his mother's womb, John recognized Christ.
Years later, at the river Jordan, John would be baptizing speaking of repentance and pointing the way toward Jesus. Jesus would also come to the river to be baptized by John. A voice from heaven would proclaim, "This is my beloved son, listen to him!" Luke 9:35
From that moment forward, Jesus would begin his ministry and command his disciples to also baptized, preach and proclaim the Word of the Lord. We continue that same mission today.
May God bless you and have a happy summer!