Faith Daily | 24 June 2022
PRAYER of the DAY - APBA p 554
Almighty and everlasting God,
you are always more ready to hear than we are to pray,
and give more than either we desire or deserve:
pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy,
forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid,
and giving us those good things
which we are not worthy to ask,
save through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ,
your Son our Lord.
COLLECT PRAYER FOR THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
by whose providence your servant John the Baptist
was wonderfully born,
and sent to prepare the way for your Son our Saviour
by preaching a baptism of repentance:
make us so to follow his teaching and holy life,
that we may truly repent,
and, following his example, may constantly speak the truth,
boldly rebuke vice,
and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
GOSPEL for the Day: Luke 1: 57-60, 80
57Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” 61They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” 62Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. 64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65Fear came over all their neighbours, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.
80The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.
GOSPEL REFLECTION: Rev’d Jan
Last year, a year to this day, I preached at the funeral of Mother Eunice, of the Society of the Sacred Advent. I include now a portion of that homily, as pertinent for remembering this holy day of remembrance of the Birth of John the Baptist.
John the Baptiser is the patron saint of the Society of the Sacred Advent, and many other Religious Orders. The Society’s aim is to point the way to Jesus, just as John did in his preparation for the one coming who was greater than him. John the Baptiser’s joy could only be complete when he knew he had achieved what God had asked of him. John prepared people for repentance in baptism; and then had the fulfilment of that understanding in baptising Jesus himself. From that moment, of John’s full recognition of the promised Messiah before him, John knew that his God-ask was done, that he must now decrease whilst Jesus the Christ increased.
As we come to new life in baptism in Christ, through the Holy Spirit, our new nature is called to flourish. We can only understand this new life in relation to Jesus Christ; in no other way can it be defined or lived out. It was the truth for John; his new life became apparent and was lived in what seemed a decreasing of noticing by the world after baptising Jesus. It was the truth for Mother Eunice as she professed her vows for religious life and merged her whole identity and purpose into a living beacon to reveal the truth of the Christ. The world would say she decreased who she was, perhaps even turned into the safety of a way of life so disciplined she could not be who she really was. Her joy, and truth, in answering her vocational call into professed life, was to focus only on increasing the knowing of Jesus Christ.
The world, and indeed the church, has always been somewhat uneasy in relationship with the Religious Orders. They are not an institution, like the church; they sit with the church but are not of it or any traditional power systems. They carry order and authority quietly. The primary shaping of life is prayer; the vow of obedience is to follow the Gospel call of Jesus. This is their charism. The Sisters of the Sacred Advent have lived this philosophy and ethos to provide the foundational fabric of all their work with education, and the disadvantaged – especially those shunned by the world for lack of not having the ‘right’ resources to live. Mother Eunice, in taking her life-long vows to the Order, lived the values of the SSA, in community, and indeed for three decades as leader of the Society.
May we all find the strength of faith to discern, trust and respond to God’s call on our life, following the examples of John and Eunice. In Christ we pray.