Greetings on this the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Readings: Is 49:1-6; PS 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15; Acts 13:22-26; Lk 1:57-66, 80
Note: Many talk about servant leadership in the business community. It’s a good idea and sometimes also a bit of coopting the sacred for personal gain. We really must be careful in the business context when using the Servant Leader idea with only sincerity and clarity.
There are four “Servant of the Lord” poems in sacred Scripture:
- Isa 42:1-4 – A bruised reed he will not break, faithfully bring forth justice.
- Isa 49:1-7 (today) – toil to make light and salvation to the ends of the world.
- Isa 50:4-11 – a well trained tongue to answer the weary and to take the buffets.
- Isa 52:13-53:12 – bear the sin (missing the mark), pain and endure the suffering of many.
In the direct meaning this first reading is about Jesus, the Suffering Servant.
In the Old Testament, the word Servant or Slave (can be synonymous) were accounted to Moses, Joshua, and David. Abraham alone was described as Friend.
This reading can be understood two ways: (Old Testament and New Testament)
- direct reference to Israel and Jesus.
- a reference to all Israel and all who are servants of God.
John the Baptist was a particular servant who was given a task unlike any other.
John exemplifies aspects of the suffering servant particular to himself and his mission.
John was also the shoshben – “the friend of the groom”, best man, groomsman. A very important role. He made everything ready for the wedding.
John was servant and friend.
I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
John possessed as a part of his person the capacity to be servant and friend in a most spectactular way. So are you. You too are wonderfully made.
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.’
You, child, will be called prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
The story of Zechariah, Elizabeth and John is really worth reading.
If you read the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke you will have done very well.
We honor John the Baptist today and his infancy story.
Good summer reading.
We too are servants of the Lord.
This too can be your story:
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.
Be a friend.
I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father (Jn 15:15).
Peace be with you,