The Birth of a Prophet

June 24, 2018

John the Baptist is a gift to the people.  Not only is he a voice crying out in the desert, but he lets others know he is not worthy to untie the sandals of our savior Jesus Christ.  This weekend we celebrate faith at its best.  We celebrate God’s fulfillment of prophesies and the setting of the stage for the recognition of our Savior.  In the story of the birth of this great herald of the kingdom we encounter a priest of the temple named Zachariah.  When the angel of the Lord tells him he is to be a father, he struggles with doubt.  This doubt results in his becoming mute, unable to speak.  It is in this silence when he spends time contemplating all that God has done for him.  Not until the celebration of birth and the naming of his child when he writes the name down that his tongue is loosed.  In this moment he praises God.

This to me is the powerful witness of the servant of God.  Zachariah is silent for close to nine months.  Then he is able to speak.  If this experience happened to you or I, what would our first words be?  After going on a silent retreat, what would our first words be?  Would they be words of praise?  Would they be words of frustration?  Zachariah speaks the praises of God with his first words.  When teens have their phone privileges taken away, when the privileges are returned, what are the first words they text?  The answer to these questions speak loudly about us; our answers reveal the core of who we are.

Today’s invitation is to find our voice, and after contemplation and silence, to use it to give praise to God.  In these times we must find our voice even if we have never used it before. This past week our Catholic bishops have used their collective voices to address the injustice happening at our borders. As the bishops of the United States point out, children being separated from their parents is a violation of human rights and it is something worth finding our voice to address. In a statement released on June 13, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston wrote:

“Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”

In silence we are given the time to reflect, investigate and learn more about issues. In the daylight we are to find our voice; a voice to praise God in the lives of those who are seeking asylum, those needing refuge from dangerous situations, those whose lives are lived on the peripheral of our society. We can do this in a number of ways including in prayer, in talking to our politicians, in the support of organizations whose mission is to advocate for the marginalized.

John the Baptist was a great herald of the kingdom.  He realized he wasn’t the Messiah, but he knew how to point people in the right direction.  We are called to do the same.  May our voice always give God glory as we protect and stand for the dignity of all human life.

Let us be loud in praising God,

Reverend John J. Ouper