The readings of the day are so beautiful – so uplifting. They truly affirm the sanctity of human life. They tell us that we do not toil in vain. They also recount the birth of John the Baptist, the man about whom Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Matthew 11:11.
The first reading is from Isaiah. “…Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
that Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!…”
Sometimes, we all feel as though we toil in vain. We feel totally depleted from the rigors of this life. We try and try, and don’t seem to make any progress on any front – spiritually, physically, financially. It is so good to be reminded that it is God who formed us – who called us into life. He has gathered us unto Himself. He is our strength and our reward. After our great toil amid the muddy waters of life on this earth, we will receive our reward, if we remain faithful. Praise God!
The Psalm is one of my absolute favorites – 139: 13-14 (Here’s an excerpt.) “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
We were each created in our mother’s wombs by a good and loving God. We were wonderfully made. God does not make mistakes. We are each one of His special masterpieces! Oh, if we could just see that when we look at one another!
The gospel recounts the birth of John the Baptist. This makes me smile, because it reminds me of how my own son came into being. I’ll try to make a long story short.
My husband and I had a boy and a girl already. We were 38 and 40 years old. God placed on my heart that our family was incomplete – specifically that we were missing a little boy named “John.” Scared as we were about our advancing age, we opened our hearts to God’s plan, and conceived a child. He was born in 2004, and we named him “John,” because I believed that this is what God wanted. Just as in Zechariah’s family, no one in our family had this name. My husband was against naming the baby “John” at first, because he thought the name to be too common. He finally conceded, saying that if I truly discerned it to be God’s Will, he’d go with it.
At John’s baptism, the priest who was supposed to baptize him was held up overseas, so we had a substitute – a Father John who happened to graduate high school with my husband. The gospel reading for the day of the baptism, unbeknownst to me, was about the commissioning of John the Baptist! These little things affirmed for me that God had been at work in little John’s life since before he was even formed in my womb. God is amazing! God is so good! God is…God!