What, Then, Will This Child Be?

Homily for the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist
June 24, 2018
St. Francis of Assisi, Fisher – 8:00 AM
Holy Trinity, Tabor – 10:00 AM


Mass with Stuffed AnimalsA little girl, age 5, is out in the barn while her family takes care of the evening milking. She has a spray bottle, a pair of scissors, and a hairbrush.  She has all the tools she needs; now she needs a client.  Then she spots her, trying to sneak by unnoticed, but of course she doesn’t go unnoticed.  Snowflake will do.  The little girl grabs the cat, sprays her down, and begins to comb and trim her white coat.

All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?”

She grew up to be a hairdresser.

Another young girl, around 10 years old, makes her lesson plans, prepares her worksheets, and sits her brother and sister down at the two school desks that her father bought at an auction sale. Class begins.  She teaches the lesson and grades their papers.

All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?”

She grew up to be a middle school math teacher.

A young boy, just 8 years old, lines his stuffed animals up on the staircase. He places a small story book in the hands of each one.  The table is set up at the foot of the steps with some Ritz crackers and grape juice.  He opens the daily missal he received for his first communion and begins to preside at Mass for his little congregation.

All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?”

He grew up and was ordained a priest.

Brothers and sisters, today we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist. John the Baptist was entrusted with a mission – the mission to go before the Lord to prepare his way – the great precursor – the one who would prepare the people for the coming of Christ and point him out when he came.

He was given this mission from before his birth.

He was created by God for this very purpose.

His vocation, his calling from God, it does not come from himself. It is not determined by himself.  It is bigger than he is.  It comes from outside of himself.  It comes from the plan of God himself.

God created him to be the lamp that would allow the Light to shine brightly.
God created him to the voice that would allow the Word to be heard…

This, of course, he does.

He speaks of the “one who is coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie…”

He preaches his baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins…

He points to Jesus as he walks by and exclaims, “Behold, the Lamb of God…” And because he fulfilled his vocation, the first two disciples begin to follow Jesus.

This mission that he was given from before his birth, he begins to fulfill even before his birth. When Mary greets Elizabeth, John points to Christ hidden in their midst by leaping for joy in his mother’s womb.

All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?”

Brothers and sisters, what did people see in you when you were a child that caused them to ask this question?

What mission has God entrusted you with?

What calling has he given you?

Have you listened for it? Are you still listening for it?

Of the children, of the young adults in our midst, have you asked the question, “What then, will this child be?”

Others often see in us what we can’t see in ourselves, or what we don’t want to see in ourselves.

Today we celebrate the Nativity of John the Baptist. We celebrate his birthday – the beginning.  John stands at the beginning of his mission and begins to live it out.

Two weeks ago, I attended the priesthood ordination of my good friend, Fr. Nate Brunn. Yesterday, the two of us celebrated Mass together with his parents and a couple of seminarians.

There is nothing so beautiful as to see someone living into their vocation and living it to the full.

Last week, I attended the wedding of two friends. I watched them pledge their lives to each other.  Yesterday, I witnessed a couple renewing their wedding vows after 35 years of marriage.

There is nothing so beautiful as to see someone living into their vocation and living it to the full.

Today, we celebrate the beginning of the vocation of John the Baptist. He lived into his vocation, his calling from God.

Are you living into yours?