June 24, 2013


Readings at Mass l Monday of the 12th Week of Ordinary Time
Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Isaiah 49:1-6

Today the Church celebrates the birth of John the Baptist. Let's get to know the story before we unpack the message. (Quoted passages come from Luke, chapter 1)

John the Baptist's father was Zechariah. Zechariah was a holy and high ranking priest at the Temple in Jerusalem. John the Baptist's mother was Elizabeth. Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were “righteous in the eyes of God”. Both Zechariah and Elizabeth were “advanced in years and had no children.”

One day, when Zechariah “was serving as priest in his division’s turn before God”, “he entered the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense” so that he might pray on behalf of all of the people of Israel. While he we was praying “the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.’”

Here's the story in a nutshell. Zechariah and Elizabeth are old ... and they have no children. Elizabeth is past her child-bearing years and their desire for children has been replaced with the grief that they shall never have their own. When the angel appears to Zechariah proclaiming that he will indeed have a son, Zechariah doubts that this could happen not that will happen. Zechariah doubts God's power; Zechariah doubts God's presence in his own life. Of course, Zechariah later assents ... Elizabeth indeed gives birth ... and Zechariah names him John as the angel proclaims.

Many of us have doubt. Perhaps we doubt our lives will really change. Perhaps we doubt whether we can really stop our pattern of sin. Perhaps we doubt that our marriages, or families, or finances, or nation, or parishes will really change. We may even doubt whether the triumphant God is really active in our lives. Doubt is a part of life. The question is this: where do we take the doubt? Do we take the doubt to the Lord (as Mary did in the Annunciation) or do we ruminate in the doubt, mulling it over in our mind (as Zechariah did in today's story)?

Where do we take the doubt? In fact, Zechariah and Elizabeth were advanced in years. There is no biological way they should have been able to conceive children. Zechariah's doubt is well-founded. However, Zechariah is invited to relate his doubt ― to take his doubt to the Lord.

Where do you most need the Lord? Where are you doubting? Now ... ask yourself this: where are going with the doubt? Talk to the Lord about your heart, your desires, and your doubt.

© Fr. Mark Toups, 2013

Today @ IPF:

The 169 seminarians in the Seminarians Summer Program have one class today: Celibacy and Sexuality. Today the men will learn about the psychological and spiritual dimensions of sexuality, as well as clear teaching on the Church's teaching in regards to same-sex attraction.

Today's Quote from B16:

“The Christian is a person of hope, even and especially in the face of the darkness that often exists in the world, not as a consequence of God’s plans but because of the wrong choices of man, because the Christian knows that the power of faith can move mountains, the Lord can brighten even the deepest darkness.”
― Homily at Vespers, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, December 31, 2012