Monday, June 25, 2012

Birth of St. John the Baptist - homily

Last year at our Opening BBQ, we had almost 1000 GW students attend our kick-off event in University Yard. Free Chipotle will do that! We had tons of free food and drink, live music, and lots of cool give-aways. One of the students who came was a junior who was hungry and couldn’t find food anywhere else on campus. He stumbled upon our event and saw that it was sponsored by “GW Catholics”. He ran into a teammate from one of the GW sports’ teams and was pleasantly surprised that she, too, was Catholic. She is one of our most passionate Catholic students here, so after a little small talk, she talked up all of our programs and encouraged him to get involved. He got involved…way involved. He had one of the biggest years of any GW Catholic last year in terms of conversion of heart. Like his teammate, he is now fired up for Christ and leading others to Him!

As we celebrate the birthday of St. John the Baptist today, she was his John the Baptist. She was the prophet who announced Christ to him in simple ways at the BBQ and then in more complex and substantial ways throughout the year. She led him to salvation and now that is the focus of his life. She has been living out the calling to be God’s servant. It’s a calling we all have, as we hear in today’s first reading, from our mother’s womb. A good friend of mine texted me this morning that his wife gave birth to a son whom they have named John. What a birthday to share! I think of John the Baptist in the womb…little John Walsh in the womb…each one of us in the womb…it was then we were given the calling to be God’s servant for life. And, then, in Baptism, the call goes higher. God says that it is “too little for you to be my servant” when it comes to salvation…when it comes to Christ. We are called in Baptism to be a “light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth”.

Book end that with what will happen when we die and go before the judgment seat of Christ. He will most likely ask us “how many people did you bring to me? To how many people did you announce me?” For St. John the Baptist, that number is huge and still growing. His prophesies continue! St. Paul repeats his prophetic words in the second reading. The Gospel writers repeated John’s prophecies. So many people have come to Christ through the preaching and teaching of St. John the Baptist! The same is true with our students at GW. The young woman announced Christ to the junior and he is now announcing Christ to his friends, family, and fraternity brothers. All the people he brings to Christ have come about through her prophecies!

It might intimidate us to be a prophet like John the Baptist. We do need to know the teachings of Christ and His Church so that we can speak the Truth to others. So, know the teachings and proclaim them! But, in the meantime, announce Christ through your actions. Specifically, be a “light to the nations” through your joy. Bring the light of Christ to the ends of the earth…the ends of your family…your friends…your co-workers…your teammates. I am convinced that the joy of Christians is the best way to show Christ to others. Our joy is our light. I just spent a week with a family in the Midwest; they showed their light all week…they showed their joy all week. The week culminated in a huge family party celebrating a graduation the last night I was there; boy, were they indulging in joy (maybe over-indulging, for some)!

Finally, St. John the Baptist’s greatest prophecy, in my opinion, is “Behold the Lamb of God”. This prophecy continues at every Mass! The most fruitful way for us to announce Christ is in the Eucharist. As so many of our students are doing, if we simply invite people to Mass, then we are living out our calling to bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Invite people to Sunday Mass, to daily Mass, and to Adoration. Tell people that is the source of our joy. May the joy that the Eucharist brings help us to be like St. John the Baptist in bringing salvation to the ends of the earth.

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