My parish has a custom of which I am very fond. When the time comes for the announcements at Sunday Mass, the commentator begins by welcoming those who are worshipping with us for the first time.
“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed!” What might happen if a latter-day Jonah were to stroll down Flatbush Avenue shouting something like that about Brooklyn?
God is going to call you. No matter who you are, no matter where you are, God is going to call you. Of that, faith gives me confidence. As for how or when or through whom, though, I don’t know!
That is the mystery with which the Gospel reading for this solemnity presents us. Mark’s Gospel tells us how “John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” and how people “of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.”
Because St. John’s is a Catholic university, every undergraduate student is required to take courses in theology and philosophy, no matter what their major might be. Whether they are biology majors aspiring to careers in medicine, or business majors aiming to be leaders in the corporate world, their theology courses aim to help them understand the teachings and traditions that make a Catholic university distinctive and to ground them in values that can guide them along life’s journey.
I used to visit my grandmother when I was a child during school vacations. Grandma Dorothy suffered from undiagnosed diabetes for many years. They thought she had a bad case of eczema that caused her left shin area to break into a really big horrific-looking sore. We would often help her clean the open wound morning and late afternoon to prevent further infection and hopefully help it to heal.
We begin our Scripture reflection this weekend with David feeling conscious of the fact that he was comfortably staying in a lavish house while the Ark of the Covenant, where the Lord dwells, was inside a humble tent.
The Gospel this weekend invites us to take a closer look into the per- son and mission of John the Baptist. Last week we heard about him in the Gospel of Mark but this week we go deeper into the question of who he is. “He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.” In other words, he will be the first to publicly witness that Jesus is the one they have been waiting for a long time. The Messiah.
We are encouraged this week to see things in a different way. It challenges us to empty ourselves like Jesus did so we might be able to empathize with the suffering of others. In doing so, we are able to connect and journey with them while giving us the opportunity to lift their gaze up to the one who can give us hope.
How many times have you heard, “I can’t wait for this year to end!”? It’s an understandable lament; 2020 has been a difficult year in many ways.