Daily Archives: June 23, 2018

Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist – Cycle B

23 June 2018

Reflecting on Luke 1: 57-66, 80

How can John the Baptist be a saint? Thanks to Herod Antipas’s drunken promise at his birthday party to give his step-daughter Salome whatever she wished, John was beheaded in the dungeons of Machaerus long before the crucifixion of Jesus. That means he wasn’t around for the resurrection either, or for Pentecost. The Baptizer was never baptized into the body of Christ. Technically, then, he wasn’t even a Christian.

I’ll do you one better. Did you know that there were three people in history born without original sin? Let’s see. There’s Mary―and I confess I was 25 before I realized that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was about HER, not Jesus―and then Jesus, of course. I count two.

Give up? It’s John the Baptist. Here’s why. Catholic doctrine and tradition hold that, because he leapt in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary entered the home of Elizabeth and Zechariah, he was cleansed of original sin and became filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb. Since sin and the Spirit can’t exist together, the Church extrapolates that he was born without original sin. At his birth, then, he was as sinless as babies are after their baptisms. But, like all of us (except Jesus and Mary, who were conceived without original sin), he was subject to sin and death after his birth.

John is the transitional saint between the Old and New Testament. Everything about him, from his birth, to his challenging presence in the desert, to his pointing to Jesus as the Lamb of God, to his horrific death for speaking truth to power, is prophetic. On this day, two billion people commemorate his birthday. Herod Antipas? Not so much.

What is your favorite story about John the Baptist?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B

23 June 2018

Reflecting on Mark 4:26-34

This section from Mark may be my favorite part of the entire New Testament. I’ve never seen the unfolding of our lives expressed more beautifully than when Jesus offers his brilliant analogy of the secret seed (4: 26-29).

This is how the kingdom of God is built: with daily kindness and graciousness, with the unrecognized nurture of parents and teachers, with ethical decisions that others take note of but never mention. Evening comes, and morning follows, year after year. And one day a person you don’t remember takes you aside in an airport and says, “I’ll never forget what you said to me that day. It changed my life.”

Or maybe one day, after years of struggle, you sit down and play a Mozart sonata with beauty and ease. Or maybe your daily Spanish tutorial finally pays off when you can converse with—or at least understand a conversation with—those nice people in the parish whom you’ve been smiling at for ages.

Or maybe your skinny jeans FINALLY fit. Or maybe you finally throw them away and stop measuring your right to live by whether you can wear them or not. Now THAT’S the kingdom of God, for sure.

My favorite line occurs after the farmer scatters seed on the land, and sleeps and rises, day after day, and the seed, without him doing anything else, sprouts and grows. How? He does not know.

Take fathers, for example. No child consciously decides which of his traits she’ll carry into the world. But studies show that his day-to-day presence and strength will help form her into a confident woman. How? She does not know. But such is the kingdom of God.

In what ways has your father most influenced your life?

Kathy McGovern ©2018

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015