The birth of Jesus is not the only birth announced by the angel Gabriel. In the Gospel for this solemnity, we hear the story of John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, receiving the message that he and Elizabeth, a woman beyond childbearing years, will have a son. John is destined to become the prophet who will prepare the way for Jesus. John speaks the truth as a prophet is supposed to do. John never rejects God’s call. Instead, he embraces it. John the Baptist reminds us that we are meant to point the way to Jesus by being prophets and speaking the truth to all the world.
This solemnity comes near the summer solstice when daylight hours begin to shorten. It is six months from the birth of Jesus (Christmas), which comes near the winter solstice when daylight hours begin to lengthen. Bible scholars have used this to support John the Baptist’s statement, “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30).
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