Dear brothers and sisters,
We celebrate this Sunday the birth of John the Baptist. We might wonder why we have this solemnity at this point of the liturgical year when Jesus reveals the mysterious sowing of the seed of the Kingdom. John’s birth discloses that the sowing begins right in the womb. Zechariah realizes this after unbelief and turns insistent - “John is his name” - affirming his wife’s claim.
In Her message, Our Lady tells us that God, from all eternity, has already traced out a clear plan for each one of us (358 j), affirming that our call begins from our mother’s womb. As Mother, She leads us to walk along the road of its realization. We will read an excerpt of Message 358, “The Families Consecrated to Me” taken from the book “To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons.”
I. GOSPEL READING (Lk. 1:57-66, 80)
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately, his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.
Points for Reflection
- A Mysterious Birth
The Gospel focuses directly on John’s birth, a fulfillment of angel Gabriel’s prophecy, which Zechariah could not at first believe because he and Elizabeth were too old and she was barren (Lk. 1:5-25). Seeing the hand of God, both realized “what will this child be” to the amazement of their neighbors.
The circumcision and the naming are vital clues. Circumcision in the Jewish tradition officially incorporates John into God’s chosen people, making him part of the covenant and His plan. He would have been named Zechariah after his father, but Elizabeth insisted that “he will be called John.” Zechariah confirmed this, as the angel told him (Lk. 1:13). It is quite evident that God has already traced out a plan for John and that his mission will certainly be extraordinary.
- The Call from the Mother’s Womb
John’s birth is simply reminding us that God’s plan begins in the womb, yes, even before birth. From the womb, Isaiah was formed and set apart to be God’s servant, we hear in the First Reading (Is. 49:1-6). The Psalm also says that God’s knowledge of us penetrates into the womb. In our mother’s womb, He forms us in secret and knits our inmost being (Ps. 139: 1b-3, 13-15). This shows how far and deep His Kingdom could reach. He reigns right in the womb!
From the womb, God accomplishes His plan throughout human history. St. Paul preached in the Second Reading that God first established His throne in David; then John preached the baptism of repentance to prepare the people for the coming of the savior, fulfilling His promises to Abraham’s children. (Acts 13:22-26).
- Our Response to His Call
The call of God in the womb applies to all of us. John’s birth foreshadows our own birth in baptism. In baptism, we are initiated into the life and mission of the Church; each is given a name, signifying God’s personal call and plan for each one of us. Let us open our hearts with trust, welcoming His words with faith and obedience.
In the sowing of the seeds of the Kingdom of God, what matters most is hearing and doing His Will. It may take time to appear, mature and be ready to bear fruit, as what happens in the germination of the seed. We only need to be humble, patient and persevering, knowing that God works in us beyond our imagination. Ultimately, however, our response will take us in a direction that only our God sees clearly.
- OUR LADY’S MESSAGE: “THE FAMILIES CONSECRATED TO ME” (Message 358)
July 23, 1981
San Quirino, Pordenone, Italy
After the recitation of the holy rosary
(Due to the lengthy message, we will only read paragraphs “i” to “o” for our reflection.)
- And then I see also to the material good of the families consecrated to me.
- The most precious good of a family is its children. The children are sign of a particular predilection on the part of Jesus and of me. The children must be wanted, welcomed and cultivated like the most precious gems of a family estate. When I enter into a family, I immediately look after the children; they become also mine. I take them by the hand; I lead them to walk along the road of the realization of a plan of God, which has from all eternity already been clearly traced out for each one of them. I love them. I never abandon them. They become a precious part of my maternal estate.
- I see to your work in a special way. I never allow you to be lacking in the assistance of divine providence. I take your hands, and I open them upon the plan, which the Lord is carrying out each day, by means of your human collaboration.
- As my humble, faithful and daily motherly action in the little and poor house of Nazareth made possible the fulfillment of the Father's plan, which was realized in the human growth of the Son, called to carry out the work of redemption for your salvation, so too I am calling you to second the plan of the Father, which is being realized through your human collaboration and by means of your daily work.
- You must do your part, as the Heavenly Father does his. Your action must be espoused to that of divine providence, that the work may produce its fruit in those goods which are useful for the sustaining of your life, for the enrichment of the family itself, in such a way that its members can always enjoy spiritual and material well-being.
- And then I will help you to carry out the plan of the Will of God. Thus I make the work more fruitful spiritually, because I make of it a source of merit for you and an occasion of salvation for many of my poor lost children. Then, in your person, action is united to love, work to prayer, fatigue to the burning thirst of an ever greater charity. In this way, by your collaboration with the Will of the Father, you form the masterpiece of a providence which, by means of you, becomes a day-to-day reality.
- Do not be afraid; there where I enter in, security enters in with me. Nothing will ever be lacking to you. I make your activity more perfect; I purify your very work.
Points for Reflection
- God’s Plan
We read an excerpt from Message 358, “The Families Consecrated to Me.” Here, Our Lady is pointing out something very fundamental and important: From eternity, God had already traced out a clear plan for each and everyone (358 j). Here, She is putting God’s plan even beyond the womb. It is from eternity. This is Providence! In God, there is certainty and security. There is nothing to worry about if people only know this plan of God for each one and take it seriously. The Lord assures us in the Gospel: “Seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Mt. 6:33-34). This is what matters most in life. Our Lady promises to families consecrated to Her to personally lead them to walk along the road towards the realization God’s plan for them.
- Human Collaboration
Our Lady urges us to do our share, as God does His part. “Your action must be espoused to that of divine providence, that the work may produce its fruit in those goods which are useful for the sustaining of your life, for the enrichment of the family itself, in such a way that its members can always enjoy spiritual and material well-being” (358 m). Her life in Nazareth is the model for us. Her humble, faithful and daily motherly action made possible the fulfillment of God’s plan for the human growth of Jesus, called to carry out the work of redemption for our salvation. She calls us, then, to second the plan of the Father through our human collaboration and by means of our daily work (358 l). By this, action is united to love, work to prayer, fatigue to the burning thirst of greater charity. “In this way, by your collaboration with the Will of the Father, you form the masterpiece of a providence, which, by means of you, becomes a day-to-day reality” (358 n).
- Family Consecration
Her message reminds us of her call for families to consecrate themselves to Her Immaculate Heart. “When you consecrate a family to my Immaculate Heart, it is as though you open the door of your house to your heavenly Mother, invite her to come in, and give her the opportunity to exercise her motherly function in an ever stronger way” (358 c). She has particular predilection on families consecrated to Her. Let us therefore continue our work of reaching out to families, and consecrating them to Her Immaculate Heart.
God bless you all!
Yours in the Immaculate Heart,
This reflection is shared with all cenacle and other prayer groups (priests and laity), communities and Marian organizations, associations and movements within and outside of the Philippines, with Our Lady’s words transcribed verbatim for those who do not have copies of the messages. This may also be shared with private individuals for their personal use.
Our Lady's messages are taken from the book: "To the Priests, Our Lady's Beloved Sons", a compilation of 604 messages in the form of locutions given by the Blessed Virgin Mary through Fr. Stefano Gobbi of Italy.
Imprimatur: Bishop Donald W. Montrose, D.D., 1998; Archbishop Francesco Cuccarese, 2007