In the readings for Sunday, June 24, the solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist, we’re reminded that God works through all kinds of people to get the Gospel to the world.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?”
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
The Church celebrates as solemnities only three people’s birthdays; Jesus, Mary and John the Baptist. When we look at the scriptures related to John, we see why he’s celebrated with the heavy hitters. The Jewish scriptures prophesied his coming, he had a miraculous birth, was able to recognize Jesus before either of them were born, and laid the groundwork for people to be ready to hear Jesus’ message.
When our own children are born, we marvel at them and wonder what they will become because they are our own and we love them. When John was born, the whole countryside wondered what he would become, expecting God to do something amazing with him, because of the strange circumstances of this birth. Luke tells us, in similar words to describe Jesus’ growing up, “The child grew and became strong in spirit.” He and Jesus were akin in family relation and in spirit.
John was a wild character—he lived in the desert, wore deliberately itchy clothes, ate bugs and yelled at people. He had a very different approach than Jesus, but it was exactly what was needed to prepare people to hear Jesus and see him for what he was. He was brave and principled, willing to speak the truth even when it meant that he’d be killed for it. He’s important because of his participation in salvation history, and because he’s a reminder to our Church that it takes all kinds to preach the Gospel effectively.
John was a miracle baby for his parents. People couldn’t wait to see what he would be when he grew up. What do you want to be when you grow up?
What can you learn about your role in the Church by reflecting on the person of John the Baptist? Does God want cookie-cutter evangelists? What characteristics do you have that would make you a good evangelist?
Tell your kids the stories about when you were waiting for them to be born or be ready for adoption. Were there any miracles? What were/are your hopes and dreams for them? Why did you choose the names you gave them?
There’s a strong pro-life message in today’s readings. God made us beautifully and wonderfully, and with purpose. Discuss what this means to you. Put your faith in action, and collect some items for babies or new mothers and bring them to a food bank or shelter.
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”