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Homily for the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Could your being here today be a part of God's eternal plan for you?

By Bishop Larry Silva
June 24, 2018

[St. Augustine Church, Waikiki]

Could your being here today be a part of God's eternal plan for you?

I have heard of many people who have met their spouses in church, and God's plan for them in marriage was fulfilled just by a chance meeting.  I am aware that the vocation to the priesthood of Pope Francis was sparked by a particular visit to his parish church when he was a young man.  I have heard of people who were not very involved at all in the lives of the poor stepping up to build a house or go to a soup kitchen because of an announcement made in church or the simple invitation of a friend, and now they are very involved in caring for those in need.  I am aware of someone who was holding a grudge against another person who had deeply hurt him, and because of hearing the Word of God one day, he decided to reach out in reconciliation.

We do not usually think in such lofty and far-reaching terms, thinking only of the moment in which we live.  But this feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist shows us that God does have a plan, and that we are a part of it.  We may not see how it is going to play out, but if we trust in his plan, it will be for the good of all and for the glory of God.

The center of all God's plans was to send his Divine Son to become a human being, so that he could forever turn us away from sin and help us realize the joy of the divine life that is within us.  I have heard many people make an excuse for sin by the claim that "I am only human;" but God's plan is to turn our hearts to realize that our humanity is a vehicle toward holiness, not an excuse for sin.  And so God planned carefully and prepared the way.  He chose a holy priest of the Temple -- though one who had his own challenges of faith -- and his old and barren wife, and he revealed to them that they were to finally -- and miraculously in their old age -- have the son they had longed for many years before.  When that son was born, he was given the name John, which means "God's gift," because this old couple knew that it was pure divine gift that made this possible, and because they were obedient to the Angel Gabriel, who had revealed this great miracle to them.  Ultimately their son would prepare the way for the Messiah himself, Jesus the Christ; would baptize him in the River Jordan; and would lay down his life for the sake of the Truth that Jesus is.  From before he was even conceived God had chosen John as a part of his great plan, and throughout his life, John was faithful to that plan.

We may not be aware of God's plan for each of us, but we are called to have faith that every one of us has a special role to play in God's plan of salvation.  For some that role will be simply to be the best spouses and parents they can be, giving love to their children, and hoping that their children will pass on the love that is God himself.  Others may be called to the priesthood, diaconate, or religious life, and thus be able to share the Good News of Jesus in a more public manner.  Others may see corruption and greed in the business world in which they are involved and work tirelessly -- and not without considerable criticism -- to make their businesses ethical and socially responsible.  The life of a teen contemplating suicide because he is being bullied at school may be saved by one person -- perhaps a classmate -- who takes the time to reach out to that teen with compassion and understanding.

None of these things may involve the high drama of an angel appearing, of the miracle of an old and barren couple having a child, or of nine months of doubting silence followed by a grand hymn of exultant faith.  Our own participation in the great and wonderful plan of God to fill the world with his life and light may be as undramatic as a commute in traffic, the changing of a diaper, or the preparation of the thousandth family meal.  Yet we should never doubt that God has a plan for each one of us, and that we will never be fulfilled unless we consent to that plan, whether it is routine or dramatic.

This celebration of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist is our reminder that God is still working his miracles through the risen Jesus, whom we encounter in a special way right here in Word and sacrament.  It is a reminder that even our being here today could have a great deal to do with God's eternal plan for the salvation of the world.

Could your being here today be a part of God's eternal plan for you?