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THE birth of St. John was foretold by an angel of the Lord to his father, Zachary, who was offering incense in the Temple. It was the office of St. John to prepare the way for Christ, and before he was born into the world he began to live for the Incarnate God. Even in the womb he knew the presence of Jesus and of Mary, and he leaped with joy at the glad coming of the son of man. In his youth he remained hidden, because He for Whom he waited was hidden also. But before Christ's public life began, a divine impulse led St. John into the desert; there, with locusts for his food and haircloth on his skin, in silence and in prayer, he chastened his own soul. Then, as crowds broke in upon his solitude, he warned them to flee from the wrath to come, and gave them the baptism of penance, while they confessed their sins. At last there stood in the crowd One Whom St. John did not know, till a voice within told him that it was his Lord. With the baptism of St. John, Christ began His penance for the sins of His people, and St. John saw the Holy Ghost descend in bodily form upon Him. Then the Saint's work was done. He had but to point his own disciples to the Lamb, he had but to decrease as Christ increased. He saw all men leave him and go after Christ. "I told you," he said, "that I am not the Christ. The friend of the Bridegroom rejoiceth because of the Bridegroom's voice. This my joy therefore is fulfilled." St. John had been cast into the fortress of Machærus by a worthless tyrant whose crimes be had rebuked, and he was to remain there till he was beheaded, at the will of a girl who danced before this wretched king. In this time of despair, if St. John could have known despair, some of his old disciples visited him. St. John did not speak to them of himself, but he sent them to Christ, that they might see the proofs of His mission. Then the Eternal Truth pronounced the panegyric of the Saint who had lived and breathed for Him alone: "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist"
Reflection. —St. John was great before God because he forgot himself and lived for Jesus Christ, Who is the source of all greatness. Remember that you are nothing; your own will and your own desires can only lead to misery and sin. Therefore sacrifice every day some one of your natural inclinations to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord, and learn little by little to lose yourself in Him.
Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition www.globalgrey.co.uk
The Lord hath called me by my name from the womb of my mother, and He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He hath protected me, and hath made me as a chosen arrow. Ps. 91, 2. It is good to give praise to the Lord, and to sing to Thy name, O Most Hight. Glory be …
O God, Who hast made this day honorable to us on account of the birth of blessed John, grant Thy people the grace of spiritual joys, and direct the minds of all the faithful in the way of everlasting salvation. Through our Lord.
Lesson from Isaias the Prophet.
[Christ shall bring the Gentiles to salvation. God's love to his church is perpetual.]
Give ear, ye islands, and hearken, ye people from afar. The Lord hath called me from the womb, from the bowels of my mother he hath been mindful of my name. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword: in the shadow of his hand he hath protected me, and hath made me as a chosen arrow: in his quiver he hath hidden me. And he said to me: Thou art my servant Israel, for in thee will I glory. And now saith the Lord, that formed me from the womb to be his servant, that I may bring back Jacob unto him, and Israel will not be gathered together: and I am glorified in the eyes of the Lord, and my God is made my strength.
And he said: It is a small thing that thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to convert the dregs of Israel. Behold, I have given thee to be the light of the Gentiles, that thou mayst be my salvation even to the farthest part of the earth. Thus saith the Lord the redeemer of Israel, his Holy One, to the soul that is despised, to the nation that is abhorred, to the servant of rulers: Kings shall see, and princes shall rise up, and adore for the Lord's sake, because he is faithful, and for the Holy One of Israel, who hath chosen thee.
Before I formed thee in the bowels of thy mother, I knew thee: and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee. The Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth: and said to me.Alleluia, alleluia. Luke 1, 76. Thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest; thou shalt go before the Lord to prepare His ways. Alleluia.
Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke.
[The conception of John the Baptist, and of Christ. The visitation and canticle of the Blessed Virgin. The birth of the Baptist and the canticle of Zachary.]
Elizabeth's full time of being delivered was come, and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and kinsfolks heard that the Lord had shewed his great mercy towards her, and they congratulated with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they called him by his father's name Zachary. And his mother answering, said: Not so; but he shall be called John.
And they said to her: There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And demanding a writing table, he wrote, saying: John is his name. And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened, and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came upon all their neighbours; and all these things were noised abroad over all the hill country of Judea.
And all they that had heard them laid them up in their heart, saying: What an one, think ye, shall this child be? For the hand of the Lord was with him. And Zachary his father was filled with the Holy Ghost; and he prophesied, saying: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; because he hath visited and wrought the redemption of his people.
The just ma shall flourish like the palm-tree; he shall grow up like he cedar of Libanus.
We heap Thine altars with gifts, O Lord, celebrating with fitting honor the nativity of him who heralded the coming of the Saviour, and pointed Him out when He had come, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son. Who with Thee.
Thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord, to prepare His ways.
May Thy Church, O God, be joyful at the birth of blessed John the Baptist, through whom she knew the Author of her regeneration, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son. Who with Thee.