Homily – Fr. Carlos Rodriquez – The Solemnity of St John the Baptist – 6/24/20

When John was born and named by his father, the people said at the time of his birth that he was a child touched by the finger of God.”  This happens when events in a person’s life cannot be explained or be understood by the human mind:  his mother was very old, his father became dumb after being visited by an angel, spoke again when he uttered the name of his son as John when no one in the family line is called by that name.  In the eyes of people such a person is touched by God and they wondered with awe and fear and perhaps even sorry for the child and his parents.  God was at work with the child.   He was destined to be a prophet, but as everyone also knew that to be a prophet would be a life of hardship: refusal by the people to listen, hatred for their negative sayings, and finally being killed by the people and authorities.  Jesus himself confirmed this.  The authorities have their own prophets who tell them only favorable things, things they would like to hear.  If John were with us today he would cause havoc.  He is a man of truth and tells it as it is.  Many could not afford to tell the truth and  very few have clear motivations.  Many show an entirely other persona outside of themselves  and  hide the one which they do not like or are not in control of.  Human beings live with so much cover ups.

The greatness of John is his humility and in understanding his role in relation to the Messiah.  He knew his duty was to introduce the Messiah.  This was His joy.  He is not to attract people to Himself but that he should lead them to the Messiah.  This ought to teach a lesson to those who aspire for a special charisma or gifts from heaven but in truth are only seeking approval and admiration.  Prophets have lots of doubt too and at times they complain of their calling.  Humility means to serve God and to serve others.  We serve God by leading others to God.  Unlike the disciples of Jesus at the beginning who wanted to sit on His right and left at His kingdom.  This is not the true Christian spirit.  We lead one another to Christ.  Formation is leading the newcomers to Christ first and foremost.  Our christian  life can only make sense if we have been led to Christ.  If not, our life is merely filled up with rituals, which our culture has enough already.   When God calls He leads the person to places where they do not want go, to think what they do not want to think, to trust another when they want to trust themselves.   John did all for the sake of the Messiah.  His joy is to see the Messiah increase and he decrease.

So this means that some one who is touched by the hand of God has a mission from God which at times is not very clear to the one touched.   As a matter of fact, it may well be that he does not know it at all.  Often times we readily apply to ourselves some christian traits by virtue of our baptism or our vocation..like we are all prophets, we are all priests, we are all healers, etc. by virtue of our baptism.  This is not the biblical sense.  In Scriptures people touched by God are instruments in the divine plan of salvation of many.  They take part in carrying out God’s  plan for all humankind.  Are there still people in our times touched by the hand of God.  Certainly!  Our God is the God of Moses, Isaac and Jacob.  He is God of the present.  Prophets are the people who speak out for the values of the gospel which our times have forgotten or refuse to heed.  One does not have to be a Christian or a Catholic for that matter to be touched by God.     Mahatma Ghandi, St. Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther King, and in our own time, George Floyd etc.  Incidentally, why is it that the death of an unknown man like Floyd could waken the consciences of peoples around the world to the injustice caused by racism.  We can combine all the beautiful treatises against racism, theologies exposing its sinfulness, articles in magazines and journals, the great preachers (I don’t know of any Catholic preacher who is world renown for his struggle against racism) and yet all these combined could not raise the level of awareness to the injustice of racism as did the death of George Floyd, previously a nobody before his death.  It is simply because the finger of God has touched him..These are people who are instruments to awaken the conscience of the world who have become complacent in the status quo.  They made an impact on society and the world –  preaching justice, liberation, detachment from material things, to share wealth,  equality and dignity of all because all are  children of God.  It really would make this reality of being touched by the finger of God cheap if we easily appropriate this calling to ourselves by virtue of being baptized.  On the contrary, we are beneficiaries of these people touched by God.  We are graced.  We need them.  They save us from our complacency.  They have  a mission from God to touch many millions to be aware once more of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  To save all from the imprisonment of sin which is the cause of inequality, injustice, racism, bigotry.  And these are deeply rooted in the hearts of men.  So before we claim greatness because of our baptism, we better rethink what it really means to be baptized.  It has to cost us.  There is no earthly comfort in it.  It brings one to live in the desert.  People avoid such a person.   And to such a person like John and our own present day people touched by God have only God to affirm them.