Why we need St. John the Baptist!
Dear Family of Mary!
On the Feast of St. John the Baptist, Fr. Cassian Sama gave the homily at English Mass in Medjugorje. I was there!! It was the perfect homily for the 40th anniversary, on the first day Our Lady appeared to the children. She came on that day, because she wanted us to realize how important St. John the Baptist is! She wanted us to learn from him how to live for Christ, how to point to Christ, how to worship Christ! St. John was the prophet who pointed to Christ, and she came to continue his work in our day, through Medjugorje. He also lived the 5 stones, which are the foundation stones of Our Lady’s call. So enjoy this homily and may we all become more like St. John the Baptist!
Fr. Cassian Sama – Homily on the Feast of St. John the Baptist, June 24, 2021
Today we celebrate on of the most important saints in the Church, but sadly many of us have no devotion to St. John the Baptist. St. John the Baptist as the Gospel of Luke tells us, was filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb of his mother. And sometimes he is called a man on fire. A man filled with the Holy Spirit, burning with the Holy Spirit.
And after his birth we are told in today’s gospel the child grew and became strong in Spirit. One famous Russian Orthodox Saint by the name of St. Seraphim of Sarrov, said that the goal of the Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. The goal of the Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. Didn’t Jesus tell us, “If you then who are wicked know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
So on this feast day we are asked to imitate St. John the Baptist. A man that was burning with the Holy Spirit. But who was the one that prompted St. John the Baptist to be filled with the Holy Spirit? We are told it was the blessed mother. We are told that when the Blessed Mother visited the house of Zachariah, we are told that Elizabeth heard her voice and was filled with the Holy Spirit! And John leapt in her womb for joy!
There was a Protestant pastor by the name of D.L. Moody. Every time he preaches he asks the Holy Spirit to fill him. So a lot of people got curious and said, Pastor why do you keep asking the Holy Spirit to fill you? Do you know what his answer was? “Because I leak!” (Ha ha) Because I leak!! You are all laughing. We all leak big time!
So the question is how do we get filled with the Holy Spirit? St. John the Baptist can tell us how!
First; Devotion to the Holy Eucharist. When Mary visited Elizabeth’s house, and John recognized that she was pregnant with His Lord, what did he do? He adored Jesus in Mary’s womb. Mary is the first Tabernacle. So whenever you see a tabernacle in the church, recognize that that is Mary, because that tabernacle contains Jesus. John the Baptist was the one who said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” So he is the first devotee of the Blessed Sacrament.
Second, to be filled with the Holy Spirit, because we leak – if we are leaking, guess what we do, go to Confession! when you go to confession, you stop that leaking. When we are in mortal sin, we lose what we call “Sanctifying Grace” which is God’s life within us. So when we go to Confession, we are grafted back into the life of Christ.
Third, St. John the Baptist teaches us that to maintain that filling of the Holy Spirit we must fast. That is why he went to the desert. The desert is not a fun place. It is not a place where you have cocktails or drink Margaritas, and sit down and chill! No! the desert is the place that is uncomfortable but at the same time, it keeps you alert. He went to the desert to encounter God. Not to be distracted by worldly things. Because his whole life pointed to Christ. His whole life pointed to God. The Holy Spirit educated him there and prepared him so that when the Savior arrived he would point people to Him.
Fourth, the whole reason to be filled with the Holy Spirit is to know Christ. It was the great doctor of the Church, St. Jerome, who said, “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” It always gets me when I see Catholics holding there Rosaries, and they pray and pray and pray. But when I question them about the mysteries, they look at me as if I am strange. If you don’t know Scripture, you are not praying your Rosary right. The Rosary should open up yourself to understand what Christ is all about in Scripture. In Scripture, God speaks to you. In Scripture, the Holy Spirit illumines your mind to know who Christ is.
Finally, prayer. St. John the Baptist went to the desert to pray. The great doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus Liguori said, “Of you don’t pray, you will be damned.” I love him, he doesn’t mince his words. Prayer is the way to receive the grace to fast. To pray is the way to receive the grace to go to confession, to confess well. To pray is the way to know who Mary really is. To pray is the way to open yourself to God. And to surrender yourself to God. Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and the Rosary are the perfect ways in which the Holy Spirit can fill you.
You know, when I pray the Rosary, in my mind I am experiencing a Pentecostal experience. Why do I say so? Because with the Rosary you pray with Mary as she prays for you. Go back to the first Pentecostal experience. Who was there? Mary was there. In fact the Apostles had a nine day retreat with Mary! So whenever you pray the Rosary, you are having a retreat with Mary!! She helps you to dispose yourself to receive her Spouse, the Holy Spirit. That is why the Rosary is the most perfect prayer after the Sacrifice of the Mass.
You don’t want to know Christ through my perspective…(even though I am a priest!) There is a Dominican saying, “To contemplate and share the fruit of your contemplation.” If you contemplate the wall, you will preach the wall. If you contemplate nothing, you will preach nothing. But if you contemplate Christ, then you will preach Christ.
So the Rosary is the perfect way to open yourself to the Holy Spirit. So St. John the Baptist, as you realize, gave us the five stones of Medjugorje! These are the five stones, as Fr. Leon spoke so eloquently about yesterday.
In the Cathedral in Minnesota where I live at the back of the Sanctuary, is a rugged figure, St. John the Baptist. And he stands like this…(hand extended and pointing) and his hand is pointing to the Tabernacle. His whole life was about Christ.
On this 40th anniversary of Our Lady’s Visitation here in Medjugorje, let us ask St. John the Baptist to ask for the grace for us to fast, to pray, to recognize Mary when she visits us, and to give ourselves to the Holy Spirit.
So my brothers and sisters, let us burn with the Holy Spirit! Let us be consumed with the Holy Spirit! Because without the Holy Spirit, the priest cannot consecrate the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ! Without the Holy Spirit, he cannot absolve the people of their sins. Even Jesus, Himself, in His Humanity, relied on the Holy Spirit. When He received Baptism, the Holy Spirit pushed him into the desert to combat Satan. This was how He could combat Satan in people’s lives.
So let us imitate St. John the Baptist, by having devotion to Mary! After St. Joseph, he was the second devotee to Mary. Let us ask St. John the Baptist to have devotion to the Eucharist.
I will end with this story: A couple of years back, when I was a third year seminarian, in Bloomington, Indiana, the Dalai Lama came to Bloomington and he rented our space. So a month before he arrived, seven of his monks came to scout the place. So one of my brothers, Brother Benedict, who has passed away, was showing them around. and they went into the back of the Sanctuary where the Tabernacle is. Br. Benedict talked and talked and then realized the place was quiet. He looked around, and then he looked down, and there were the seven monks down on their knees before the Blessed Sacrament. He said ‘What are you guys doing?” They answered, “Brother, there is someone divine in that box. There is someone divine in that box.” If these monks, who are not Christian, not Catholic, and they can recognize Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, what about us?
So let us ask for the grace to recognize Christ in the Eucharist and surrender ourselves to Him. By so doing, we will burn like St. John the Baptist! (Homily by Father Cassian Sama, June 24, 2021 – English Mass in Medjugorje)
I highly recommend listening to this homily by Fr. Cassian, using the link above. His delivery is powerful!!
In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
Mary TV 2021