Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Three months ago was the Annunciation of Our Lord, the date when we celebrate the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary to announce to her that she would be the bearer of the Christ. At the same time, Gabriel told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was already six months pregnant with the one who would prepare the way for the Christ. So today, three months after the Annunciation and six months before the Nativity of Our Lord, we celebrate the birth of St. John the Baptist. The earliest celebrations of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist are recorded by the Council of Agde in 506.

John’s announcing the Lordship of Jesus began even before John was born. When Mary came to visit Elizabeth, John leapt in her womb, announcing the arrival of the not-yet-born Christ. The purpose of celebrating the feast of St. John’s Nativity, as with all feasts and festivals, is to remember the One to whom St. John the Baptist pointed: “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way / of the LORD*
Make straight in the desert a highway / for our God.
And the glory / of the LORD*
shall / be revealed. (Isaiah 40:3, 5a)
It is good to give thanks / to the LORD,*
and to sing praises to Your name, / O Most High.
To declare Your lovingkindness in the / morning,*
and Your faithfulness / ev’ry night.
For You, LORD, have made me glad / through Your work;*
I will triumph in the works / of Your hands.
O LORD, how great / are Your works!*
Your thoughts are / very deep. (Psalm 92:1–2, 4–5)

O Lord God, heavenly Father, who through Your servant Saint John the Baptist did bear witness that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and that all who believe in Him shall inherit eternal life, we humbly implore You to enlighten us by Your Holy Spirit that we may at all times find comfort and joy in this witness, continue steadfast in the true faith, and at last with all believers attain unto eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

"Before I formed you in the womb I / knew you;*
before you were born I sancti- / fied you."
Then the LORD put forth His hand and / touched my mouth,*
and the LORD said to me: "Behold, I have put My words / in your mouth."(Jeremiah 1:5, 9)

Readings: Isaiah 40:1–8
Psalm 141
Acts 19:1–7
Luke 1:57–80

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