Luke’s gospel this morning
Should remind us of Christmas.
The carefully balanced stories
Of John the Baptist’s birth
With Jesus’ birth
Including that they were both
Announced by the Angel Gabriel
As everything John the Baptist
Said and did for the coming
Of the Lord.
By the time he was born
He had already recognized
The Christ child
Dancing in Elizabeth’s womb
Once he spotted Jesus
On the shore of the River Jordan
His ministry became focused
On pointing the way to Christ.
There He is, The Lamb of God!
Drop everything and follow Him,
He is the culmination of history;
All your hopes and dreams
Reside in Him.
For calling out authority
He eventually lost his life.
Beheaded in a game of
Jealousy and anger and lust
At the court of the king.
He’s the perfect saint to
Celebrate during Religious Liberty week,
Especially when our media culture
The press, corporations, universities,
Some government leaders
Get as angry as Herod’s court
When confronted with the teachings
Of Christ and his church.
Direct confrontation isn’t even necessary
In some cases,
Just the very fact that Christians dare
To practice their faith in public
Is deemed a direct threat
And must be curtailed.
Many years ago
Public schools in this country
Taught American Protestantism
And ridiculed the Catholic faith
Leading many to found the
Catholic schools as a place
Where the faith could be taught
And not mocked.
Today it would be hard to characterize
Exactly what the public schools
Are teaching about religious faith
Or civic faith or faith in relationships.
In some cases, educators seeking
To remake society
View the American family itself
As a threat.
At a time when Catholic institutions,
Schools, adoption agencies, hospitals,
Are needed now more than ever
Their very existence is threatened
Not only by market economics
But by maneuvering in
Our toxic political square.
Our prayers during Religious Liberty week
Are to strengthen the laws which protect
Our God given right to worship
And witness our faith as we must,
In the spirit of John the Baptist.
Democracies depend on virtuous citizens
And virtuous leaders to survive;
May we be encouraged by
The Holy Spirit to be strong witnesses.
All of us can give witness to the virtues
About which Jesus spoke:
Mutual sacrificial love
And the beatitudes.
Sometimes it takes the courage of John the Baptist.