Skip to comments.Catholic Caucus: Daily Mass Readings, 06-24-20, SOL, Nativity of St. John the Baptist
Posted on 06/23/2020 9:25:12 PM PDT by Salvation
Hear me, O coastlands,
listen, O distant peoples.
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mothers womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.
Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
that Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
R. (14) I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
O LORD, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R. I praise you for I am wonderfully made.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mothers womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
My soul also you knew full well;
nor was my frame unknown to you
When I was made in secret,
when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.
R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
In those days, Paul said:
God raised up David as king;
of him God testified,
I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;
he will carry out my every wish.
From this mans descendants God, according to his promise,
has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance
to all the people of Israel;
and as John was completing his course, he would say,
What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.
Behold, one is coming after me;
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.
My brothers, sons of the family of Abraham,
and those others among you who are God-fearing,
to us this word of salvation has been sent.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You, child, will be called prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
No. He will be called John.
But they answered her,
There is no one among your relatives who has this name.
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, John is his name,
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
What, then, will this child be?
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.
In the days of King Josiah, the word of the LORD came to me, saying:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you.
Ah, Lord GOD! I said,
I know not how to speak; I am too young.
But the LORD answered me,
Say not, I am too young.
To whomever I send you, you shall go;
whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Have no fear before them,
because I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.
Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying,
See, I place my words in your mouth!
This day I set you
over nations and over kingdoms,
to root up and to tear down,
to destroy and to demolish,
to build and to plant.
R. (6) Since my mothers womb, you have been my strength.
In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, and deliver me;
incline your ear to me, and save me.
R. Since my mothers womb, you have been my strength.
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.
R. Since my mothers womb, you have been my strength.
For you are my hope, O LORD;
my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mothers womb you are my strength.
R. Since my mothers womb, you have been my strength.
My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
R. Since my mothers womb, you have been my strength.
Although you have not seen Jesus Christ you love him;
even though you do not see him now yet believe in him,
you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,
as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Concerning this salvation,
prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours
searched and investigated it,
investigating the time and circumstances
that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated
when he testified in advance
to the sufferings destined for Christ
and the glories to follow them.
It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you
with regard to the things that have now been announced to you
by those who preached the Good News to you
through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven,
things into which angels longed to look.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
He came to testify to the light,
to prepare a people fit for the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
In the days of Herod, King of Judea,
there was a priest named Zechariah
of the priestly division of Abijah;
his wife was from the daughters of Aaron,
and her name was Elizabeth.
Both were righteous in the eyes of God,
observing all the commandments
and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren
and both were advanced in years.
Once when he was serving
as priest in his divisions turn before God,
according to the practice of the priestly service,
he was chosen by lot
to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.
Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside
at the hour of the incense offering,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him,
standing at the right of the altar of incense.
Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.
But the angel said to him, Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John.
And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.
John will drink neither wine nor strong drink.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mothers womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God.
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah
to turn their hearts toward their children
and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,
to prepare a people fit for the Lord.
KEYWORDS: catholic; lk1; ordinarytime; prayer; saints;
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From: Isaiah 49:1-6
Second Song of the Servant of the Lord
49:1-55:13. Chapter 49 marks the start of the second section of the second part of Isaiah. The first section (40:1-48:22) dealt with the release of the Jews from exile in Babylon on the orders of the Lord, the ruler of the world and of all nations. This second section sings of the restoration of Zion and the renewal of the people.
Almost all the oracles here presuppose that Babylon has fallen and the exiles have returned home (although neither event is explicitly referred to). Nor is there mention of the universal scope of salvation: the focus is mainly on future hopes and on Jerusalem.
Most of the oracles in this section were probably proclaimed, between the years 515 and 500 BC. If that was the case, then they were addressed to a disillusioned people: the enthusiasm that came with the return from exile and the efforts made to rebuild Jerusalem failed to produce the desired results: there are still class differences, greed is plain to see, and huge sectors of society are experiencing poverty. The kind of Jerusalem that the exiles dreamed of had not come about: it bore no relationship to what they were experiencing; nor did it fit the image of Jerusalem found in many texts of the Priestly tradition (cf. Introduction to the Pentateuch, in “The Navarre Bible: Pentateuch” (p. 20). These oracles are designed to dispel, discouragement and to raise peoples hopes by telling them about the liberator that God is going to send, the servant of the Lord, and by proclaiming that the holy city (now given the sacred name of Zion) will very soon be restored. In fact, the section can be divided into alternating poems on the servant and on Zion: 49:1-13, the “servant” (second oracle); 49:14-50:3, “Zion”; 50:4-11, the “servant”, (third oracle and exhortation); 51:17-52:12, Zion; 52:13-53:12, the “servant” (fourth oracle); 54:1-17, “Zion” (Jerusalem). Verses 1-13 of chapter 55 are an exhortation to commit oneself to the new Covenant.
49:1-6. In the first Song of the Servant of the Lord (42:1-9) we meet the servant for the first time and we are told of his mission to liberate the exiles. In this second song, the servant himself speaks. He addresses .the coastlands, peoples from afar, and he is conscious of having been chosen by God from his mothers womb to carry out Gods plans of salvation even in those distant parts (cf. vv. 1-3). Here we are told about two aspects of his mission, which we will hear more about in the oracles that follow. First, he is to play a leading role in the recovery of the tribes and the repatriation of the exiles (v. 5); second, he will extend salvation to the ends of the earth (cf. v. 6).
This poem contains, things that the servant has to say about himself (vv. 1-4), and things that God says about the servant (vv. 5-6). The servant is well aware that he was called by God, even from his mothers womb, (like Jeremiah; cf. Jer 1:5) and has been charged with preaching to the pagan peoples (the coastlands) or at least to his compatriots in the diaspora (cf. v. 1; cf. Jer 1:1-10; 25:13-38); he has been endowed with qualities that enable him to speak out, with words that find their mark like arrows, even if that creates divisions (v. 2; cf. Jer 1:10); and also, despite the divine protection given him, he feels depressed and disappointed, as happened to Jeremiah (vv. 3-4; cf. Jer 1:7; :8:18-20). Everything that the servant does is grounded on what the Lord has told him: You are my servant, Israel (v. 3). Some commentators are of the view that Israel here is a later interpretation, put in to support the collectivist interpretation of the servant that soon became widespread; but there is little evidence to support that: the word Israel is missing only in one manuscript, and not an important one at that. The mention of Israel does not argue against the servants being an individual rather than a collectivity, for in poetry a person can be addressed by his own name or by his family name. In fact, both in biblical Israel and nowadays we often find people using their place of birth as a surname.
In vv. 5-6 the Lord spells out the servants mission: it is to renew the people in such a way that even non-Israelites can see the light and attain salvation. Although the universal mission of the servant is not clearly defined here, for his work is meant to be confined to the tribes of Jacob, still the achievement of this objective (the re-assembling of Israel) will be a kind of light to help the pagan nations see and acknowledge God. The expression light to the nations. (v. 6) already occurred in the earlier poem (42:6); there it could be taken in a social sense—to bring about the liberation of the exiles and captives; here, the religious meaning is clear: salvation will spread to all the nations.
To sum up, the servant of the Lord (be he an individual or a collectivity, or more likely both) has been chosen by God, who loves him most specially; he has all the main qualities of a prophet; and he must influence his compatriots so as to enlighten those from outside, and bring them salvation.
The messianic interpretation of the servant figure, based on this second song, was widespread among the Jews of Alexandria who made the Septuagint Greek translation; it was also held by members of the Qumran community and by some authors of the period between the Old and New Testaments (the author of the “Book of Enoch”, for example). All these interpreted the servant as standing for the entire people of Israel. Christians, from the beginning, applied the songs of the servant to Jesus, and saw them as finding fulfillment in his life. Thus, although the image of the sharp sword (v. 2) refers to the effectiveness of the word of God, in Hebrews 4:12-13 we find it used with reference to Revelation as a whole which is fully and perfectly manifested in Jesus Christ (cf. also Rev 1:16 and 2:12). We find the expression, light to the nations or light to the peoples being applied by Simeon to Jesus (Lk 2:32). Indeed, in the Acts of the Apostles it is applied to those who, in line with Jesus teaching and as cooperators in his work of salvation, are setting out to preach to the Gentiles, as the words Paul and Barnabas speak in the synagogue of Psidian Antioch testify: It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 13:46-47). Hence the Church sees her mission as spreading the truth about Jesus, the light that enlightens everyone: The light, of Gods face shines in all its beauty on the countenance of Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), the reflection of Gods glory (Heb 1:3), full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14). Christ is the way, and the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6). [...] Jesus Christ, the light of the nations, shines: upon the face of his Church, which he sends forth to the whole world to proclaim the Gospel to every creature (cf. Mk 16:15). Hence the Church, as the people of God among the nations, while attentive to the new challenges of history and to mankinds efforts to discover the meaning of life, offers to everyone the answer which comes from the truth about Jesus Christ and his Gospel (John Paul II, “Veritatis Splendor”, 2).
From: Acts 13:22-26
Preaching in the Synagogue of Antioch of Pisidia (Continuation)
 “Brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you that fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation.”
16-41. Paul’s address here is an excellent example of the way he used to present the Gospel to a mixed congregation of Jews and proselytes. He lists the benefits conferred by God on the chosen people from Abraham down to John the Baptism (verses 16-25); he then shows how all the messianic prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus (verses 26-37), and, by way of conclusion, states that justification comes about through faith in Jesus, who died and then rose from the dead (verse 38-41).
This address contains all the main themes of apostolic preaching, that is, God’s saving initiative in the history of Israel (verses 17-22);
reference to the Precursor (verses 24-25); the proclamation of the Gospel or “kerygma” in the proper sense (verses 26b-31a); mention of Jerusalem (verse 31b); arguments from Sacred Scripture (verses 33-37), complementing apostolic teaching and tradition (verses 38-39); and a final exhortation, eschatological in character, announcing the future (verses 40-41). In many respects this address is like those of St. Peter (cf. 2:14ff; 3:12ff), especially where it proclaims Jesus as Messiah and in its many quotations from Sacred Scripture, chosen to show that the decisive event of the Resurrection confirms Christ’s divinity.
Paul gives a general outline of salvation history and then locates Jesus in it as the expected Messiah, the point at which all the various
strands in that history meet and all God’s promises are fulfilled. He shows that all the steps which lead up to Jesus Christ, even the stage of John the Baptist, are just points on a route. Earlier, provisional elements must now, in Christ, give way to a new, definitive situation.
“You that fear God” (verse 26): see the notes on Acts 2:5-11 and 10:2.
From: Luke 1:57-80
The Birth and Circumcision of John the Baptist
 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying,  “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people,  and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,  as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,  that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us;  to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant,  the oath which he swore to our father Abraham,  to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear,  in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.  And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,  to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins,  through the tender mercy of our God, when the day shall dawn upon us from on high  to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.
59. Circumcision was a rite established by God under the Old Covenant to mark out those who belonged to His chosen people: He commanded Abraham to institute circumcision as a sign of the Covenant He had made with him and all his descendants (cf. Genesis 17:10-14), prescribing that it should be done on the eighth day after birth. The rite was performed either at home or in the synagogue, and, in addition to the actual circumcision, the ceremony included prayers and the naming of the child.
With the institution of Christian Baptism the commandment to circumcise ceased to apply. At the Council of Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15:1ff), the Apostles definitely declared that those entering the Church had no need to be circumcised.
St. Paul’s explicit teaching on the irrelevance of circumcision in the context of the New Alliance established by Christ is to be found in Galatians 5:2ff; 6:12ff; and Colossians 2:11ff.
60-63. By naming the child John, Zechariah complies with the instructions God sent him through the angel (Luke 1:13).
64. This miraculous event fulfills the prophecy the angel Gabriel made to Zechariah when he announced the conception and birth of the Baptist (Luke 1:19-20). St. Ambrose observes: `With good reason was his tongue loosed, because faith untied what had been tied by disbelief” (”Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam. in loc.”).
Zechariah’s is a case similar to that of St. Thomas, who was reluctant to believe in the resurrection of our Lord, and who believed only when Jesus gave him clear proof (cf. John 20:24-29). For these two men God worked a miracle and won their belief; but normally He requires us to have faith and to obey Him without His working any new miracles. This was why He upbraided Zechariah and punished him, and why He reproached Thomas: “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:29).
67. Zechariah, who was a righteous man (cf. v. 6), received the special grace of prophecy when his son was born—a gift which led him to pronounce his canticle, called the “Benedictus”, a prayer so full of faith, reverence and piety that the Church has laid it down to be said daily in the Liturgy of the Hours. Prophecy has not only to do with foretelling future events; it also means being moved by the Holy Spirit to praise God. Both aspects of prophecy are to be found in the “Benedictus”.
68- 79. Two parts can be discerned in the “Benedictus”: in the first (vv. 68-75) Zechariah thanks God for sending the Messiah, the Savior, as he promised the patriarchs and prophets of Israel.
In the second (vv. 76-79) he prophesies that his son will have the mission of being herald of the Most High and precursor of the Messiah, proclaiming God’s mercy which reveals itself in the coming of Christ.
72-75. Again and again God promised the patriarchs of the Old Testament that he would take special care of Israel, giving them a land which they would enjoy undisturbed and many descendants in whom all the peoples of the earth would be blessed. This promise he ratified by means of a covenant or alliance, of the kind commonly made between kings and their vassals in the Near East. God, as Lord, would protect the patriarchs and their descendants, and these would prove their attachment to him by offering him certain sacrifices and by doing him service. See, for example, Genesis 12:13; 17:1-8; 22:16-18 (God’s promise, covenant and pledge to Abraham); and Genesis 5:11-12 (where he repeats these promises to Jacob). Zechariah realizes that the events resulting from the birth of John his son, the Precursor of the Messiah; constitute complete fulfillment of these divine purposes.
78-79. The “dawning”, the “dayspring”, is the Messiah, Jesus Christ, coming down from heaven to shed his light upon us: “the son of righteousness shall rise, with healing on its wings” (Mal 4:2). Already in the Old Testament we were told about the glory of the Lord, the reflection of his presence—something intimately connected with light. For example, when Moses returned to the encampment after talking with God, his face so shone that the Israelites “were afraid to come near him” (Ex 34:30). St John is making the same reference when he says that “God is light and in him there is no darkness” (1 Jn 1:5) and that there will be no light in heaven “for the glory of God is its light” (cf. Rev 21:23; 22:5).
The angels (cf. Rev 1:11) and the saints (cf. Wis 3:7; Dan 2:3) partake of this divine splendor; our Lady does so in a special way. As a symbol of the Church she is revealed to us in the Apocalypse as “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feel, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (12:1).
Even when we live in this world, this divine light reaches us through Jesus Christ who, because he is God, is “the true light that enlightens every man” (Jn 1:9), as Christ himself tells us: “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness” (Jn 8:12).
Such is Christians’ share in this light of God that Jesus tells us: “You are the light of the world” (Mt 5:14). Therefore, we must live as children of the light (cf. Lk 16:8), whose fruit takes the form of “all that is good and right and true” (Eph 5:9); our lives should shine oul, thereby helping people to know God and give him glory (cf. Mt 5:16).
80. “Wilderness”: this must surely refer to the “Judean wilderness” which stretches from the northwestern shores of the Dead Sea to the hill country of Judea. It is not a sand desert but rather a barren steppe with bushes and basic vegetation which suit bees and grasshoppers or wild locusts. It contains many caves which can provide shelter.
From: Jeremiah 1:4-10
The Lord calls Jeremiah
 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
 Then I said, Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth. But the Lord said to me,
Do not say, I am only a youth;
for to all to whom I send you you shall go,
and whatever I command you you shall speak.
 Be not afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you.
 Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said
Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to break down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build up and to plant.
1:1-19. The book of Jeremiah is a collection of the prophets oracles arranged more by subject than in chronological order and interspersed with stories about his life. The heading (vv. 1-3), as in most of the prophetical books, introduces the prophet and tells when he lived. Then, as an introduction to the book, comes an account of the call of Jeremiah (vv. 4-10) along with two visions that give a good description of the man (vv. 11-12 and 13-19).
1:4-10. This account of the call of Jeremiah gives a very good idea of the mysterious nature of every divine call a call from all eternity and involving no merit on the part of the person called, in which God makes known to a soul the why and wherefore of his or her life. No one comes into being by accident, for everything that happens is part of Gods providence (v. 5). Gods action in creating a person is described graphically formed you in the womb a word used to describe what a potter does when he models something in clay. The Lord knew Jeremiah a reference to his choosing him for a specific mission (cf. Amos 3:2; Rom 8:29); God has a plan for each person, and he endows each with talents that equip him or her to put that plan into effect. The passage also talks of a consecration, that is, the earmarking of a person or thing for the service of God. Gods plan for someone, made before the person is born, emerges in due course, when he or she is old enough to take on the assignments that God has been preparing him for. Glossing this passage, St John Chrysostom, has God say this: I am the one who knit you together in your mothers womb. Your life is not a work of nature, nor the fruit of suffering. I am the origin and cause of all things: you should obey and offer yourself to me, and he adds: It does not begin with I consecrated you: first, I knew you; then I consecrated you. Thus is the original choice shown, and after the original choice, the particular calling (Fragmenta in Ieremiam, 1).
When the mystery of a persons calling begins to be revealed, their initial reaction can be one of fear, because they are very conscious of their limitations and feel that they are not up to the tasks that the Lord entrusts them with. Jeremiah, for example, argues that he is too young (v. 6). We do not know how old he was at the time, for the word he uses to describe his age (naar) is imprecise. He was probably only an adolescent (cf. Gen 37:2; 1 Sam 2:18; 3:1-21). In responding to a vocation, one needs to listen, above all, to God who calls, who never leaves his chosen ones on their own, and who always gives them the wherewithal to carry out the mission he is charging them with (vv. 7-8).
The Lords symbolic gesture of putting out his hand to touch Jeremiahs mouth, as if to fill it with divine words, is similar to other gestures found in accounts of the calling of prophets (cf. Is 6:7; Ezek 2:8-3:3; Dan 10:16). It is to tell the man not to be concerned: he can rest assured that God will give him the right words to express himself. It is a promise similar to that made by Jesus to his disciples: he assured them of the Holy Spirits help when the time came for them to bear witness to him (cf. Mt 10:19-20).
The assignment given to Jeremiah implies a heavy responsibility; he will need fortitude if he is to carry it out (v. 10). It involves in the first place doing destructive things (plucking up, breaking down, destroying and overthrowing) and only then come constructive roles (building and planning). St Gregory the Great will apply the same idea to the attention that is called for in the pastoral care of the faithful: One cannot build up if what disturbs the foundation has not been destroyed. In other words, the sweet words of good preaching are sown in vain if the thorns of self-love have not first been plucked from the hearts of listeners (Regular pastoralis, 3, 34).
From: 1 Peter 1:3-9
Praise and Thanksgiving to God
3-12. This passage, a hymn of praise and gratitude to God, developing what is proclaimed in v. 2, is more explicit about the action of each Person of the Blessed Trinity: by making his choice of Christians, God the Father has destined us to a marvellous heritage in heaven (vv. 3-5); to attain this we need to love and believe in Jesus Christ our Lord (vv. 6-9); the Holy Spirit, who earlier proclaimed salvation by the mouth of the Old Testament prophets, is now, through those who preach the Gospel, announcing that salvation has arrived (vv. 10-12).
3-5. When the fruits of the Redemption are applied to us, a kind of rebirth takes place. St Peter is the only New Testament writer to use the Greek term translated here “we have been born anew” (cf. also 1:23). However, the same idea occurs elsewhere: St John speaks of the action of the Holy Spirit at Baptism as causing one to be born again (cf. Jn 3:1ff; also, e.g., 1:12-13; 1 Jn 2:29; 3:9); St Paul refers to “a new creation” to describe the effects of Redemption (cf., e.g., Gal 6:15; 2 Cor 5:17); and St James calls Christians the “first fruits of his creatures”(Jas 1:16-18).
Through this being born again, God destines us “to a living hope”, which centers on the inheritance of heaven, here described as “imperishable” (it is eternal), “undefiled” (it contains no evil) and “unfading” (it will never grow o Id). The sacred writer uses these adjectives of negation to show that heavenly things are not subject to any of the imperfections and defects of earthly things.
For those Christians who stay true to their calling, their inheritance is “kept in heaven”. This key theme will be addressed in various parts of the letter (cf. 2:18-25; 3:13-17; 4:12-19; 5:5-11); the letter is very much aimed at encouraging the faithful to bear sufferings with joy, knowing that they are a means to and a guarantee of heaven.
3. God brought about the work of Redemption “by his great mercy”. For God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph 2:4-5). And just as the work of Creation is a manifestation of God’s omnipotence, so his new Creation is an _expression of his mercy (cf. “Summa Theologiae”, II-II, q. 30, a. 4; cf. note on 2 Cor 5:17).
“Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”: the resurrection of our Lord marks the climax of his salvific work, for it assures men of their redemption and their own resurrection. In its Easter liturgy the Church joyfully reminds of this: “He is the true Lamb who took away the sins of the world. By dying he destroyed our death; by rising he restored our life” (”Easter Preface”, I).
6-9. Hope of obtaining the inheritance of heaven gives Christians joy in the midst of trials which test their faith. At the center of that faith is Jesus, whom they strive to love above all, thereby attaining “unutterable and exalted joy”, a foretaste of the joy of heaven itself.
Exhortations to be joyful in the midst of affliction occur often in the New Testament (cf., e.g., Mt 5:11-12; 2 Cor 1:3-7; Jas 1:2) and reflect a deep Christian conviction, which St. Bede refers to in his commentary: “St Peter says that it is good to suffer trials because eternal joys cannot be obtained except through the afflictions and sorrows of this passing world. ‘For a little while’, he says, however, because when one receives an eternal reward, the afflictions of this world—which appeared so heavy and bitter—seem then to have been very short-lived and slight” (”Super 1 Pet. Expositio, ad loc.”).
Christian joy is the fruit of faith, hope and love. “You should realize that God wants us to be happy and that, if you do all you can, you will be happy, very, very happy, although you will never be a moment without the Cross. But that Cross is no longer a gallows. It is the throne from which Christ reigns” ([St] J. Escriva, “Friends of God”, 141).
7. The refining of gold by fire is often referred to in Scripture (cf., e.g., Ps 66:10; Prov 17:3; 1 Cor 3:12-13; Rev 3:18) to explain that the sufferings of this life help to improve the quality of one’s faith. “If I experience pain,” St Augustine teaches, “relief will come in due course. If I am offered tribulation, it will serve for my purification. Does gold shine in the craftman’s furnace? It will shine later, when it forms part of the collar, when it is part of the jewelry. But, for the time being, it puts up with being in the fire because when it sheds its impurities it will acquire its brilliant shine” (”Enarrationes in Psalmos”, 61, 11).
The thought of Christ coming in glory (cf. 1:5-13; 4:13) should greatly encourage the Christian to bear trials cheerfully.
From: 1 Peter 1:10-16
Praise and Thanksgiving to God (Continuation)
Christians Are Called To Be Saints
10-12. These verses of thanksgiving (vv. 3-12) end with a reference to the role of the Holy Spirit in salvation: he acted in the Old Testament through the prophets by announcing salvation, and now, through preachers of the Gospel, he reveals that it has come about.
The passage is a clear acknowledgment of the unity and continuity of the Old and New Testaments: in the Old the sufferings and subsequent glorification of Christ are proclaimed, in such a way that “what the prophets predicted as future events,” says St Thomas, “the Apostles preached as something which had come true” (”Commentary on Eph” 2:4). “The economy of the Old Testament was deliberately orientated to prepare for and declare in prophecy the coming of Christ, Redeemer of all men, and of the messianic Kingdom (cf. Lk 24:44; Jn 5:39; 1 Pet 1:10) [...]. God, the inspirer and author of the books of both Testaments, in his wisdom has so brought it about that the New should be hidden in the Old and that the Old should be made manifest in the New. For although Christ
founded the New Covenant in his blood (cf. Lk 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25), still the books of the Old Testament, all of them caught up into the Gospel message, attain and show forth their full meaning in the New Testament (cf. Mt 5:17; Lk 24:27; Rom 16:25-26; 2 Cor 3:14-16) and in their turn, shed light on it and explain it” (Vatican II, “Dei Verbum”, 15-16).
These verses show the Holy Spirit’s role as cause and guide of the evangelizing activity of the Church. In the early days of the spread of Christianity, as described in Acts, the action of the third Person of the Blessed Trinity was palpable.
12. The Greek word translated at the end of this verse as “look” contains the idea of bending over carefully in order to get a better look. This metaphor, then, depicts the angels in heaven contemplating with joy the mystery of salvation. St Francis de Sales, referring to this passage, exclaims: “Now in this complacency we satiate our soul with delights in such a manner that we do not yet cease to desire to be satiated [...]. The fruition of a thing which always contents never lessens, but is renewed and flourishes incessantly; it is ever agreeable, ever desirable.The perpetual contentment of heavenly lovers produces a desire perpetually content” (”Treatise on the Love of God”, 5, 3).
1:13-2:10. Having focused their attention on the sublimity of the Christian calling, St Peter exhorts the faithful to a holiness in keeping
with it. He provides some reasons why they should strive for holiness—the holiness of God (vv. 13-16) and the price paid for their
salvation, the blood of Christ (w. 17-21). He then goes on directly to refer to the importance of love (vv. 22-25); and he encourages them to grow up in their new life (2:1-3) so that as “living stones” they can form part of the spiritual building of the Church, which has Christ as its cornerstone (vv. 4-10).
13-16. Israel was chosen by God from all the peoples of the earth to implement his plan of salvation: he set the people of Israel free from the slavery of Egypt, established a covenant with them and gave them commandments about how to live. These commandments in their highest formtell them to be holy as God is holy (cf. Lev 19:2). However, those eventsin the life of Israel were only an imperfect foreshadowing of what would happen when Jesus Christ came: Christians constitute the new chosen people; by Baptism they have been set free from sin and have been called to live in a fully holy way, with God himself as their model.
The Second Vatican Council solemnly declared that all are called to holiness (cf., e.g., “Lumen Gentium”, 11, 40, 42). Monsignor Escriva, who anticipated the Council’s teaching on this and other points, had constantly preached about this universal call to holiness: “Christ bids all without exception to be perfect as his heavenly Father is perfect. For the vast majority of people, holiness means sanctifying their work, sanctifying themselves in it, and sanctifying others through it—thereby finding God as they go about their daily lives [...]. Since the foundation of the Work in 1928, my teaching has been that sanctity is not the reserve of a privileged few; all the ways of the earth, every state in life, every job, every honest occupation, can be divine” (Bernal, “Monsignor Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer”, III, 3).
13. “Gird up your minds”: a metaphor based on the custom of the Jews, and Middle Easterners in general, of gathering up their rather full garments prior to setting out on a journey, to let them walk with greater ease. In the account of the Exodus we are told that God laid it down that when the Israelites celebrated the Passover they should do so with their loins girt, their sandals on and a staff in their hand (cf. Ex 12:11), because they were about to start on the journey to the promised land. St Peter evokes this image (which our Lord also used: cf. Lk 12:35ff), because Baptism, the new Exodus, marks the start of the Christian pilgrimage to heaven, our lasting home (cf. 1:17; 2:11); and he applies it to sobriety:we need to control our feelings and inclinations if we are to walk with joy along the route which will take us to the glorious coming of the Lord.
“The revelation of Jesus Christ”: this is a reference, above all, to his eschatological coming at the end of time. The revelation of Jesus began with his incarnation and will reach its climax at the end of this world. Therefore, the “grace” mentioned should be understood not only as sanctifying grace but also the whole ensemble of benefits the Christian receives at Baptism, which will find their full expression in heaven.
14. “Your former ignorance”: the sacred writer contrasts his hearers’ present position with their former one. He does not mean that prior to Baptism they were perverse and ignorant, but that the Christian vocation brings such clear knowledge of God and so many aids to practise virtue that their previous position can be viewed as one of concupiscence and ignorance. “The followers of Christ, called by God, not in virtue of their works but by his design and grace, and justified in the Lord Jesus, have been made sons of God in the baptism of faith and partakers of the divine nature, and so are truly sanctified” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium”, 40).
Liturgical Colour: White.
These readings are for the Vigil Mass on the evening before the feast:
|First reading||Jeremiah 1:4-10 ©|
|Psalm 70(71):1-6,15,17 ©|
|Second reading||1 Peter 1:8-12 ©|
|Gospel||Luke 1:5-17 ©|
These readings are for the day of the feast itself:
|First reading||Isaiah 49:1-6 ©|
|Psalm 138(139):1-3,13-15 ©|
|Second reading||Acts 13:22-26 ©|
|Gospel||Luke 1:57-66,80 ©|
|English: Douay-Rheims||Latin: Nova Vulgata||Greek NT: Byzantine/Majority Text (2000)|
|57.||Now Elizabeth's full time of being delivered was come, and she brought forth a son.||Elisabeth autem impletum est tempus pariendi, et peperit filium.||τη δε ελισαβετ επλησθη ο χρονος του τεκειν αυτην και εγεννησεν υιον|
|58.||And her neighbours and kinsfolks heard that the Lord had shewed his great mercy towards her, and they congratulated with her.||Et audierunt vicini et cognati eius quia magnificavit Dominus misericordiam suam cum illa, et congratulabantur ei.||και ηκουσαν οι περιοικοι και οι συγγενεις αυτης οτι εμεγαλυνεν κυριος το ελεος αυτου μετ αυτης και συνεχαιρον αυτη|
|59.||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.||Et factum est, in die octavo venerunt circumcidere puerum et vocabant eum nomine patris eius, Zachariam.||και εγενετο εν τη ογδοη ημερα ηλθον περιτεμειν το παιδιον και εκαλουν αυτο επι τω ονοματι του πατρος αυτου ζαχαριαν|
|60.||And his mother answering, said: Not so; but he shall be called John.||Et respondens mater eius dixit: Nequaquam, sed vocabitur Ioannes .||και αποκριθεισα η μητηρ αυτου ειπεν ουχι αλλα κληθησεται ιωαννης|
|61.||And they said to her: There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.||Et dixerunt ad illam: Nemo est in cognatione tua, qui vocetur hoc nomine .||και ειπον προς αυτην οτι ουδεις εστιν εν τη συγγενεια σου ος καλειται τω ονοματι τουτω|
|62.||And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.||Innuebant autem patri eius quem vellet vocari eum.||ενενευον δε τω πατρι αυτου το τι αν θελοι καλεισθαι αυτον|
|63.||And demanding a writing table, he wrote, saying: John is his name. And they all wondered.||Et postulans pugillarem scripsit dicens: Ioannes est nomen eius . Et mirati sunt universi.||και αιτησας πινακιδιον εγραψεν λεγων ιωαννης εστιν το ονομα αυτου και εθαυμασαν παντες|
|64.||And immediately his mouth was opened, and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.||Apertum est autem ilico os eius et lingua eius, et loquebatur benedicens Deum.||ανεωχθη δε το στομα αυτου παραχρημα και η γλωσσα αυτου και ελαλει ευλογων τον θεον|
|65.||And fear came upon all their neighbours; and all these things were noised abroad over all the hill country of Judea.||Et factus est timor super omnes vicinos eorum, et super omnia montana Iudaeae divulgabantur omnia verba haec.||και εγενετο επι παντας φοβος τους περιοικουντας αυτους και εν ολη τη ορεινη της ιουδαιας διελαλειτο παντα τα ρηματα ταυτα|
|66.||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.||Et posuerunt omnes, qui audierant, in corde suo dicentes: Quid putas puer iste erit? . Etenim manus Domini erat cum illo.||και εθεντο παντες οι ακουσαντες εν τη καρδια αυτων λεγοντες τι αρα το παιδιον τουτο εσται και χειρ κυριου ην μετ αυτου|
|80.||And the child grew, and was strengthened in spirit; and was in the deserts until the day of his manifestation to Israel.||Puer autem crescebat et confortabatur spiritu et erat in deserto usque in diem ostensionis suae ad Israel.||το δε παιδιον ηυξανεν και εκραταιουτο πνευματι και ην εν ταις ερημοις εως ημερας αναδειξεως αυτου προς τον ισραηλ|
57. Now Elisabeths full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.
58. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.
AMBROSE. If you carefully observe, you will find that the word signifying fulness is no where used except at the birth of the righteous. Hence it is said, Now Elisabeths full time came. For the life of the righteous hath fulness, but the days of the wicked are empty.
CHRYSOSTOM. And for that reason the Lord kept back the delivery of Elisabeth, that her joy might be increased, and her fame the greater. Hence it follows, And her neighbours and cousins heard, &c. For they who had known her barrenness were made the witnesses of the Divine grace, and no one seeing the child departed in silence, but gave praise to God, Who had vouchsafed him beyond their expectation.
AMBROSE. For the bringing forth of saints causes the rejoicing of many; it is a common blessing; for justice is a public virtue, and therefore at the birth of a just man a sign of his future life is sent beforehand, and the grace of the virtue which is to follow is represented, being foreshadowed by the rejoicing of the neighbours.
59. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.
60. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.
61. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.
62. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.
63. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.
64. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.
CHRYSOSTOM. (in Gen. Hom. 39.) The rite of circumcision was first delivered to Abraham as a sign of distinction, that the race of the Patriarch might be preserved in unmixed purity, and so might be able to obtain the promises. But now that the promise of the covenant is fulfilled, the sign attached to it is removed. So then through Christ circumcision ceased, and baptism came in its place; but first it was right that John should be circumcised; as it is said, And it came to pass, that on the eighth day, &c. For the Lord had said, Let the child of eight days be circumcised among you. (Gen. 17:13.) But this measurement of time I conceive was ordered by Divine mercy for two reasons. First, because in its most tender years the child the more easily bears the cutting of the flesh. Secondly, that from the very operation itself we might be reminded that it was done for a sign; for the young child scarcely distinguishes any of the things that are around him. But after the circumcision, the name was conferred, as it follows, And they called him. But this was done because we must first receive the seal of the Lord, then the name of man. Or, because no man except he first cast aside his fleshly lusts, which circumcision signifies, is worthy to have his name written in the book of life.
AMBROSE. The holy Evangelist has especially remarked, that many thought the child should be called after his father Zacharias, in order that we might understand, not that any name of his kinsfolk was displeasing to his mother, but that the same word had been communicated to her by the Holy Spirit, which had been foretold by the Angel to Zacharias. And in truth, being dumb, Zacharias was unable to mention his sons name to his wife, but Elisabeth obtained by prophecy what she had not learnt from her husband. Hence it follows, And she answered, &c. Marvel not that the woman pronounced the name which she had never heard, seeing the Holy Spirit who imparted it to the Angel revealed it to her; nor could she be ignorant of the forerunner of the Lord, who had prophesied of Christ. And it well follows, And they said unto her, &c. that you might consider that the name belongs not to the family, but to the Prophet. Zacharias also is questioned, and signs made to him, as it follows, And they made signs to the father, &c. But since unbelief had so bereft him of utterance and hearing, that he could not use his voice, he spoke by his hand-writing, as it follows, And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John; that is, we give no name to him who has received his name from God.
ORIGEN. (non occ.) Zacharias is by interpretation remembering God, but John signifies pointing to. Now memory relates to something absent, pointing to, to something present. But John was not about to set forth the memory of God as absent, but with his finger to point him out as present, saying, Behold the Lamb of God.
CHRYSOSTOM. But the name John is also interpreted the grace of God. Because then by the favour of Divine grace, not by nature, Elisabeth conceived this son, they engraved the memory of the benefit on the name of the child.
THEOPHYLACT. And because with the mother the dumb father also agreed as to the name of the child, it follows, And they all marvelled. For there was no one of this name among their kinsfolk that any one could say that they had both previously determined upon it.
GREGORY NAZIANZEN. (Orat. vi.) The birth of John then broke the silence of Zacharias, as it follows, And his mouth was opened. For it were unreasonable when the voice of the Word had come forth, that his father should remain speechless.
AMBROSE. Rightly also, from that moment was his tongue loosed, for that which unbelief had bound, faith set free. Let us then also believe, in order that our tongue, which has been bound by the chains of unbelief, may be loosed by the voice of reason. Let us write mysteries by the Spirit if we wish to speak. Let us write the forerunner of Christ, not on tables of stone, but on the fleshly tablets of the heart. For he who names John, prophesies Christ. For it follows, And he spake, giving thanks.
BEDE. Now in an allegory, the celebration of Johns birth was the beginning of the grace of the New Covenant. His neighbours and kinsfolk had rather give him the name of his father than that of John. For the Jews, who by the observance of the Law were united to him as it were by ties of kindred, chose rather to follow the righteousness which is of the Law, than receive the grace of faith. But the name of John, (i. e. the grace of God,) his mother in word, his father in writing, suffice to announce, for both the Law itself as well as the Psalms and the Prophecies, in the plainest language foretel the grace of Christ; and that ancient priesthood, by the foreshadowing of its ceremonies and sacrifices, bears testimony to the same. And well doth Zacharias speak on the eighth day of the birth of his child, for by the resurrection of the Lord, which took place on the eighth day, i. e. the day after the sabbath, (septimam sabbati.) the hidden secrets of the legal priesthood were revealed.
65. And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judæa.
66. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.
THEOPHYLACT. As at the silence of Zacharias the people marvelled, so likewise when he spoke. Hence it is said, And fear came upon all; that from these two circumstances all might believe there was something great in the child that was born. But all these things were ordained, to the end that he who was to bear witness of Christ might also be esteemed trustworthy. Hence it follows, And all they that heard them laid them up in their heart, saying, What manner of child, &c.
BEDE. For forerunning signs prepare the way for the forerunner of the truth, and the future prophet is recommended by auspices sent before him; hence it follows, For the hand of the Lord was with him.
GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Metaphrastes.) For God worked miracles in John which he did not himself, but the right hand of God in him.
GLOSS. (ordin.) But mystically, at the time of our Lords resurrection, by the preaching of the grace of Christ, a wholesome dread shook the hearts not only of the Jews, (who were neighbours, either from the place of their dwelling, or from the knowledge of the law,) but of the foreign nations also. The name of Christ surmounts not only the hilly country of Judæa, but all the heights of worldly dominion and wisdom.
80. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.
BEDE. The future preacher of repentance, that he might the more boldly reclaim his hearers from the allurements of the world, passes the first part of his life in the deserts. Hence it is said, And the child grew.
THEOPHYLACT. i. e. in bodily stature, and waxed strong in spirit, for together with his body at the same time his spiritual gift increased, and the workings of the Spirit were more and more manifested in him.
ORIGEN. Or he increased in spirit, remaining not in the same measure in which he had begun, but the Spirit was ever growing in him. His will ever tending to better things, was making its own advances, and his mind ever contemplating something more divine, while his memory was exercising itself, that it might lay up more and more things in its treasury, and more firmly retain them. But he adds, And he waxed strong. For human nature is weak, as we learn, the flesh is weak. (Matt. 26:41.) It must therefore be made strong by the Spirit, for the Spirit is ready. Many wax strong in the flesh, but the wrestler of God must be strengthened by the Spirit that he may crush the wisdom of the flesh. He retires therefore to escape the noise of cities, and the thronging of the people. For it follows, And he was in the deserts. Where the air is purer, the sky more clear, and God a closer friend, that as the time had not yet arrived for his baptism and preaching, he might have leisure for praying, and might hold converse with the angels, calling upon God and fearing Him, saying, Behold, here am I.
THEOPHYLACT. Or, he was in the deserts that he might be brought up beyond the reach of the malice of the multitude, and not be afraid of man. For if he had been in the world, perchance he had been corrupted by the friendship and conversation of the world. And secondly, that he who was to preach Christ might also be esteemed trust-worthy. But he was hid in the desert until it pleased God to shew him forth to the people of Israel, as it follows, till the day of his shewing forth to Israel.
AMBROSE. And rightly is the time noted during which the prophet was in the womb, in order that the presence of Mary might not be passed over, while they are silent about the time of his childhood, because being strengthened in the womb by the presence of the Mother of the Lord, he knew not the struggles of childhood.
Catena Aurea Luke 1
Pray for Pope Francis.
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