(Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary)
1st Reading: Is 49:1-6
Hear me, O coastlands, listen, O distant peoples. The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me. You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory. Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God. For now the Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb, that Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him; and I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord, and my God is now my strength! It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
2nd Reading: Acts 13:22-26
In those days, Paul said: “God raised up David as king; of him God testified, I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish. From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus. John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’ “My brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those others among you who are God-fearing, to us this word of salvation has been sent.”
Gospel: Lk 1:57-66, 80
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So, they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.
BORN FOR A MISSION: At the annunciation to Zachariah, the angel said of John, “He will be great in the sight of the Lord… He will go before him… to prepare a people fit for the Lord.” (Lk 1:13-17). John already recognises Jesus while still being in the womb (Lk 1:41). When he was born, Zachariah sang, “And you, little child, you shall be called Prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare a way for him” (Lk 1:76). John the Baptist fulfilled the mission for which he was born. Each one of us is born for a mission. We have to fulfil it as expected. As we celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist, let us reflect on the mission for which we were born.
Prayer. Lord, I praise you for I am wonderfully made for a unique mission.
BE IMMACULATE LIKE MARY: The feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is celebrated today. A heart is comprised of the right and the left sides. The right side draws in oxygen, poor-used up blood, from the body. Once the blood is transformed with the help of the lungs, the left side gives out the oxygen-rich blood to the body. The Bible reads that Mother Mary kept all these things (both sadness and joys) in her heart. Analytically, she treasured the painful as well as the joyful moments. She neither was attached to happy events nor hated suffering. Through this holding with faith she was able to transform hatred into love, injury into pardon, doubt into hope, darkness into light, sadness to joy. In our life too if we do not transform the pain, then we transmit it to others, especially to the weak who are close to us: refugees, servants, children, women and the downtrodden. Only then can we become transformers, not transmitters, we can become followers of Jesus.
SELF -RESPECT- A GAME CHANGER: Machiavelli said, there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things. Jesus is asking for a new order, when he insists that there be no oaths. A generation used to swear words and oaths is asked to shed it all. Character and competency are said to be building blocks of trust but when wanting, people tend to swear. You hope to coax the listener to believe your lines. Here trust comes into play. When your posture radiates self-esteem, you come across as a convincing and trustworthy person. To cap it all, when the respect of the other is written all over your words and gestures, the person is convincing. He speaks straight, he conducts honestly and carries himself with conviction.