Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
June 24; 2020
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on the great feast of John the Baptist, we pray with Psalm 139, the prayer of awed gratitude.
June 24th is a pivotal date in my life. It became so in 1966 on the day I was first professed as a Sister of Mercy. Our then Mother General, who chose our Profession date, had deep devotion to John, and often spoke to us wide-eyed novices about his holiness.
In one such lecture, she solemnly pronounced the core of his sanctity – how he considered himself in relation to his cousin Jesus:
He must increase and I must decrease.
Mother Bernard told us that this was the key to the spiritual life: let God grow in you as self recedes.
It was a beautiful lesson but a hard one to swallow. We were a gaggle of 20-somethings fired up to find our adulthoods. We were all about growing – making our statement in the world!
Learning to discover, rely on, and magnify the hidden omnipresence of God within would – at least for some of us – takes a lifetime, just as it probably should.
Psalm 139 is a prayer that can lead us to God’s powerful secrets in our hearts, ready to be unfolded as the years pass. These treasures include:
- that we are made of earth and stars and must find vigor in harmony with them
- that we are woven of both the dances and the dyings of our mothers, fathers, and ancestors – each a mysterious blessing
- that as we live our lives, it is God living within us
- that God knows, loves, and redeems everything about us
June 24, 1966 came clothed in noontime sun and trumpet blasts all those years ago – shouting youth, hope, and a good deal of ambition.
The date’s passing iterations have gently mellowed the song God sings to me. Now it goes something like this:
Today, the date’s rising carries the sustained melody of a gentle pan flute. Within its breathy music, I cherish the gift of years, how intimately accompanied and tenderly cared for I have been … even from my mother’s womb until now.
May each of us today – in whatever season and sound of the journey – pray with our hidden, ever-present God who cherishes our being.
Called to Become From Edwina Gateley, There Was No Path So I Trod One (1996, 2013) You are called to become A perfect creation. No one is called to become Who you are called to be. It does not matter How short or tall Or thick-set or slow You may be. It does not matter Whether you sparkle with life Or are as silent as a still pool. Whether you sing your song aloud Or weep alone in darkness. It does not matter Whether you feel loved and admired Or unloved and alone For you are called to become A perfect creation. No one's shadow Should cloud your becoming. No one's light Should dispel your spark. For the Lord delights in you. Jealously looks upon you And encourages with gentle joy Every movement of the Spirit Within you. Unique and loved you stand. Beautiful or stunted in your growth But never without hope and life. For you are called to become A perfect creation. This becoming may be Gentle or harsh. Subtle or violent. But it never ceases. Never pauses or hesitates. Only is— Creative force— Calling you Calling you to become A perfect creation.
Music: If I Take the Wings of Morning – John Rutter