Solemnity of the nativity of John the Baptist
Is 49:1-6; Acts 13:22-26; Lk 1:51-66; 80
“The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb.” These words from this week’s first reading do not only apply to the prophet Isaiah. They also apply to each and everyone of us.
One of the great insights to come out of the Vatican II Council was the recognition that every member of the Body of Christ has a vocation – a special and unique call from God (In Latin, the word meaning “to call” is “vocare”). The fundamental vocation we all share is the call to holiness. Then there are the three basic vocations in life – the call to consecrated life, to married life or to single life. (I’ve always been a bit whistful that only two of these vocations are honored by specific sacraments). After that comes the particular calling that is revealed over time via the Holy Spirit within the innermost being of the believer. As St. Paul make clear in his brilliant image of the Church as the Body of Christ in his first letter to the Corinthians: to be Church is to honor both the callings of others and our own calling.
The best definition of Original Sin that I have ever come across is that of Fr. Thomas Keating: Original Sin is the illusion that we are alone and unloved in an indifferent universe. It is the darkness of this illusion which makes it so difficult for most of us – certainly me – to recognize the voice of the Spirit within as something distinctly different than our limited Egos. Marianne Williams in an oft quoted passage presents such a “Who am I to be great?” mentality only to countermand it with a question: “Actually, who are you not to be?”
As we enter into our Fortnight of Freedom intended to emphasize the crucial importance of the 1st Amendment in the life of our nation and the various forces that threaten it, this week’s first reading offers us a good opportunity to think and to pray about why the 1st Amendment is so important. If a society does not protect and cherish the right of every member to speak the truth dwelling within her/his heart it will cease to be a human society and become a police state. While the Church and the State are two distinct entities, this truth applies equally well to both.
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrm)
(This summer I will be teaching a 10 hour Faith Foundations course as an introduction to the basic beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church. See the website for the diocese of Rockville Centre (www.drvc.org) for more details.)