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The nativity of John the Baptist

23 Jun 2018, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

John the Baptist was a great man; even Jesus praised his greatness. The Church especially celebrates his birthday, unlike the other saints. The Church mostly celebrates the feast days of saints on their birthday into heaven, the day they died, and not their birthday into the world. But the Church especially celebrates both days for John because of his greatness. St. John was special, and today we especially celebrate his nativity.

In our gospel passage this morning, we see him been named; he was going to be named Zechariah after his father. But his mother objected, No; he is to be called John. They tried to change her mind about her choice of name because they felt there was no one among their relative who bears such a name. So, they had to ask the child’s father, who was at that time unable to speak because of his earlier encounter with an angel in the temple. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote. His name is John. They were all amazed.

Now, what is so special about this name? Why the arguments? The name John is a Hebrew name, meaning God is gracious; God has shown favor. This name was significant to the child’s parents because they waited for the child for so long. God showed them his uncommon favor, and they needed to express it and let the whole world know what the Lord has done.

As we celebrate John’s nativity today, we are reminded not to let anyone stop our zeal to praise God. Many things may happen to stop or question our faith in Jesus Christ, situations may try to force us to deny who we are in Christ, but we must learn to insist on God’s help not to give up. The parents of John did not let anything or pressure from the family change their minds. God is indeed gracious.

John was born for a purpose to prepare the way for the Lord. He fearlessly proclaimed the message of God; he called everyone to the river Jordan to repent and to be baptized. We were all brought to the baptismal font by our parents or walked there ourselves to be baptized. John fulfilled the reason he was born; he fought the good fight and kept the faith. We are challenged today to fight the good fight and to keep the faith as John did.

I also use this opportunity to encourage married couples to mind the names they give to their children. We live in a world today where names mean nothing, a world where parents no longer mind giving meaningless and unchristian names to their children. We are Christians and Catholics; the faith of our fathers must be kept alive.

May today’s celebration of John the Baptist’s nativity helps us reflect once again on the purpose for which we were created and born into the world. May we fulfill our destiny as planned by God. Amen.