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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 specially celebrates his birthday, unlike the other saints. The Church mostly celebrates the feast days of saints on their birth day into heaven; the day they died, and not their birth day into the world. But the Church specially celebrates both days for John because of his greatness. St. John was special, and today we specially 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 make her change her mind about her choice of name because they felt there was no one among their relative who bears such name. So, they had to ask the child’s father who was at that time unable to speak because of his ealiar encounter with an angel in the temple. He asked for a writting 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 favour. This name was very important to the parents of the child because, they waited for the child for so long. God showed them his uncommon favour, and they needed to express it and let the whole world know what the Lord has done.

As we celebrate the nativity of John today, we are reminded not to let anyone stop our zeal to praise God. So 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 with the help of God not to give up. The parents of John did not let anything or presure 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 baptised. We too were all brought to the baptismal fount by our parents or walked there ourselves to be baptised. John fulfilled the reason he was born; he faught the good fight and kept the faith. We are challanged 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 the nativity of John the Baptist help us to reflect once again over the purpose for which we were created and born into the world. May we fulfill our destiny as planned by God. Amen.