wednesday 24 June 2020
Birthday of Saint John the Baptist
Jesus Christ himself said: John was the greatest of the sons of men. The greatest, but also the most tragic. A prophet from before his birth, leaping in the womb to announce the coming of the incarnate God, to proclaim the fulfillment of all prophecies – and thus his own obsolescence
Entrance Antiphon: Jn 1, 6-7; Lk 1, 17
A man was sent from God, whose name was John. He came to testify to the light, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.
O God, who raised up Saint John the Baptist to make ready a nation fit for Christ the Lord, give your people, we pray, the grace of spiritual joys and direct the hearts of all the faithful into the way of salvation and peace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
First reading: Isaiah 49:1-6
Islands, listen to me, pay attention, remotest peoples. The Lord called me before I was born, from my mother’s womb he pronounced my name. He made my mouth a sharp sword, and hid me in the shadow of his hand. He made me into a sharpened arrow, and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, ‘You are my servant (Israel) in whom I shall be glorified’; while I was thinking, ‘I have toiled in vain, I have exhausted myself for nothing’; and all the while my cause was with the Lord, my reward with my God. I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord, my God was my strength. And now the Lord has spoken, he who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, to gather Israel to him: ‘It is not enough for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel; I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’
Psalm 138(139):1-3, 13-15
R/ I thank you for the wonder of my being.
- O Lord, you search me and you know me, you know my resting and my rising, you discern my purpose from afar. You mark when I walk or lie down, all my ways lie open to you.
- For it was you who created my being, knit me together in my mother’s womb. I thank you for the wonder of my being, for the wonders of all your creation.
- Already you knew my soul, my body held no secret from you when I was being fashioned in secret and moulded in the depths of the earth.
Second reading: Acts 13:22-26
Paul said: ‘God deposed Saul and made David their king, of whom he approved in these words, “I have selected David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will carry out my whole purpose.” To keep his promise, God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Saviour, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his career he said, “I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.” ‘My brothers, sons of Abraham’s race, and all you who fear God, this message of salvation is meant for you.’
Gospel Acclamation: Lk1:76
Alleluia, alleluia! As for you, little child, you shall be called a prophet of God, the Most High. You shall go ahead of the Lord to prepare his ways before him. Alleluia!
Gospel: Luke 1:57-66,80
The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy. Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. ‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘But no one in your family has that name’, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him. Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel.
Prayer over the Offerings
We place these offerings on your altar, O Lord, to celebrate with fitting honour the nativity of him who both foretold the coming of the world’s Saviour and pointed him out when he came. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Communion Antiphon: Lk 1: 78
Through the tender mercy of our God, the Dawn from on high will visit us.
Prayer after Communion
Having feasted at the banquet of the heavenly Lamb, we pray, O Lord, that, finding joy in the nativity of Saint John the Baptist, your Church may know as the author of her rebirth the Christ whose coming John foretold. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
As the Church celebrates today the birth of John the Baptist, we can affirm that St Luke dedicates the first two chapters of the Gospel describing two important births, the birth of John and Jesus. The two will occupy a very important place in the realization of God’s plan for his people. He uses facts and people from the Old Testament to show how the promises made in the past become reality in the birth of John and Jesus. Elizabeth the mother of John is compared to Sarah, the wife of Abraham; to Rachel and to Hannah, the mother of Samuel. These women were sterile like Elizabeth but God blessed them with the birth of a child when everyone had lost hope. These sons had very important roles to play in the history of salvation. The people saw God’s goodness in Elizabeth’s pregnancy and all rejoiced with her. She did not let herself to be overcome by the external pressure to name him after his father, Zechariah but stood her grounds, “His name is John.” In a little town like Ain Karem, it could have been a difficult battle as social control could be strong. Zechariah himself wrote on the tablet, “his name is John.” All were astonished and must have confirmed that there was something special about this child.