Skip to comments.Nativity of the Forerunner John the Baptist, June 24
Posted on 06/23/2005 9:57:08 PM PDT by Agrarian
She that once was barren doth today bring forth Christ's Forerunner, John, the culmination and the crown of all the Prophets. For when he, in River Jordan, laid his hand on Him Whom the Prophets preached aforetime, he was revealed as God the Word's fore-chosen Prophet, His mighty preacher, and His Forerunner in grace.
He that was greater than all who are born of women, the Prophet who received God's testimony that he surpassed all the Prophets, was born of the aged and barren Elizabeth (Luke 1: 7) and filled all his kinsmen, and those that lived round about, with gladness and wonder. But even more wondrous was that which followed on the eighth day when he was circumcised, that is, the day on which a male child receives his name. Those present called him Zacharias, the name of his father. But the mother said, "Not so, but he shall be called John." Since the child's father was unable to speak, he was asked, by means of a sign, to indicate the child's name. He then asked for a tablet and wrote, "His name is John." And immediately Zacharias' mouth was opened, his tongue was loosed from its silence of nine months, and filled with the Holy Spirit, he blessed the God of Israel, Who had fulfilled the promises made to their fathers, and had visited them that were sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, and had sent to them the light of salvation. Zacharias prophesied concerning the child also, saying that he would be a Prophet of the Most High and Forerunner of Jesus Christ. And the child John, who was filled with grace, grew and waxed strong in the Spirit; and he was in the wilderness until the day of his showing to Israel (Luke 1:57-80). His name is a variation of the Hebrew "Johanan," which means "Yah is gracious."
Reading courtesy of Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA Kontakion courtesy of Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA
From the Prologue of Ochrid:
Six months before his appearance in Nazareth to the All-holy Virgin Mary, the great archangel of God, Gabriel appeared to Zacharias the high priest in the Temple at Jerusalem. Before he announced the miraculous conception to the unwed virgin [Mary], the archangel announced the miraculous conception to the childless old woman [Elizabeth].
Zacharias did not immediately believe the words of the herald of God and this is why his tongue was tied with dumbness and remained as such until eight days after the birth of John. On that day, the relatives of Zacharias and Elizabeth gathered for the young child's circumcision and for the sake of giving him a name. When they asked the father what name he wishes to give to his son and being dumb, he wrote on a tablet: "John."
At that moment his tongue became loosed and he began to speak. The home of Zacharias was on the heights between Bethlehem and Hebron. The news of the appearance of the angel of God to Zacharias was spread throughout all of Israel, as well as of his dumbness and the loosening of his tongue at thee moment when he wrote the name "John."
The news concerning this even reached Herod. Therefore, when Herod sent soldiers to slay the children throughout Bethlehem, he directed men to the hilly dwelling place of the family of Zacharias to kill John also. However, Elizabeth promptly hid the child. Enraged, at this King Herod sent his executioners to Zacharias in the Temple to slay him (for it happened that it was Zacharias' turn again to serve in the Temple of Jerusalem). Zacharias was slain between the court and the temple and his blood coagulated and petrified on the stone pavers and remained a perpetual witness against Herod.
Elizabeth hid with the child in a cave where she died soon after. The young child John remained in the wilderness alone under the care of God and God's angels.
One of the differences between the eloquent philosophy of the Greeks [Hellenes] and the Christian Faith is that the entire Hellenistic philosophy can clearly be expressed with words and comprehended by reading, while the Christian Faith cannot be clearly expressed by words and even less comprehended by reading alone.
When you are expounding the Christian Faith, for its understanding and acceptance, both reading and the practice of what is read are necessary. When Patriarch Photius read the words of Mark the Ascetic concerning the spiritual life he noticed a certain unclarity with the author for which he wisely said:
"That [unclarity] does not proceed from the obscurity of expression but from that truth which is expressed there; it is better understood by means of practice (rather than by means of words) and that cannot be explained by words only." And this, the great patriarch adds, "It is not the case with these homilies nor only with these men but rather with all of those who attempted to expound the ascetical rules, passions and instructions, which are better understood from practice alone."
He is, on every Orthodox iconostasis, on the left hand of Christ (the Theotokos is on his right.)
I noticed this. My family will return to St. Ignatius this Sunday; first time for my children. Please pray for us that the visit goes well and that my wife and I have patience with our 5 and 12 year old children. I'm concerned that the length of the service, the standing and the newness of it all may be too much for them.
I've put you on my Orthodox ping list, and will ping FormerLib and Kolokotronis, the other main keepers of the list. If you want off, just let me know.
Seeing the Theotokos and John the Baptist at either side of Christ on Orthodox iconostases, and reading the Orthodox interpretation of the Psalm that speaks of "the Queen" being at his right hand -- all of this brings to life just what Christ was talking about when he told the mother of James and John that those places had been prepared for others...
You will have our prayers, but don't worry about your children. The Orthodox Church tends to be very children friendly. We do expect our children to learn to be attentive over time, but we don't expect this to happen all at once! It happens pretty naturally over time.
I find that it helps to position oneself such that
a. the children can see what is going on, and
b. one can easeily slip out with them to give them a break if they get squirmy.
Children tend to find Orthodox worship, with its liturgical movement, incense, etc... fairly engaging.
Keep in mind also that in the early church, catechumens were only in church for the first part of the liturgy. When we were in our exploration and catechumen years, I considered that I had done just fine if I got my little kids through "The doors, the doors..." before needing to leave! I took a lot of walks outside in the sun with my youngest in particular while listening to the sounds of the liturgy coming through the open windows of the church...
Those were sweet days. Now, they're all teenagers, and have feet and wills of iron, and can make it through the rigors of Holy Week without breaking a sweat...
June 24, 2007
Birth of John the Baptist
Jesus called John the greatest of all those who had preceded him: I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John.... But John would have agreed completely with what Jesus added: [Y]et the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he (Luke 7:28).
John spent his time in the desert, an ascetic. He began to announce the coming of the Kingdom, and to call everyone to a fundamental reformation of life.
His purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. His Baptism, he said, was for repentance. But One would come who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. John is not worthy even to carry his sandals. His attitude toward Jesus was: He must increase; I must decrease (John 3:30).
John was humbled to find among the crowd of sinners who came to be baptized the one whom he already knew to be the Messiah. I need to be baptized by you (Matthew 3:14b). But Jesus insisted, Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15b). Jesus, true and humble human as well as eternal God, was eager to do what was required of any good Jew. John thus publicly entered the community of those awaiting the Messiah. But making himself part of that community, he made it truly messianic.
The greatness of John, his pivotal place in the history of salvation, is seen in the great emphasis Luke gives to the announcement of his birth and the event itselfboth made prominently parallel to the same occurrences in the life of Jesus. John attracted countless people (all Judea) to the banks of the Jordan, and it occurred to some people that he might be the Messiah. But he constantly deferred to Jesus, even to sending away some of his followers to become the first disciples of Jesus.
Perhaps Johns idea of the coming of the Kingdom of God was not being perfectly fulfilled in the public ministry of Jesus. For whatever reason, he sent his disciples (when he was in prison) to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah. Jesus answer showed that the Messiah was to be a figure like that of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah. John himself would share in the pattern of messianic suffering, losing his life to the revenge of Herodias.
Thanks for the ping for the feast. I haven’t been on FR much other than the occasional lurk. Hope you are doing well.
|The Messiah and his forerunner|
Zechariahs mouth was opened, and he prophesied, saying Blessed be the God of Israel.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
for he has come to his people and brought about their redemption.
He has raised up the sign of salvation
in the house of his servant David,
as he promised through the mouth of the holy ones,
his prophets through the ages:
to rescue us from our enemies
and all who hate us,
to take pity on our fathers,
to remember his holy covenant
and the oath he swore to Abraham our father,
that he would give himself to us,
that we could serve him without fear
freed from the hands of our enemies
in uprightness and holiness before him,
for all of our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High:
for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare his path,
to let his people know their salvation,
so that their sins may be forgiven.
Through the bottomless mercy of our God,
one born on high will visit us
to give light to those who walk in darkness,
who live in the shadow of death;
to lead our feet in the path of peace.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Zechariahs mouth was opened, and he prophesied, saying Blessed be the God of Israel.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.