Skip to comments.John the Baptist, an Enduring Model of Fidelity to God
Posted on 06/22/2009 11:02:57 PM PDT by bdeaner
1. "The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name" (Is 49,1).
Today we celebrate the birth of St John the Baptist. The words of the Prophet Isaiah are well-suited to describe this great biblical figure who stands between the Old and the New Testaments. In the long line of Israel's prophets and just men and women, John "the Baptist" was placed by God's providence immediately before the Messiah, in order to prepare the way before him by his preaching and by the witness of his life.
Of all the saints, John is the only one whose birth is celebrated by the Liturgy. We heard in the first Reading that the Lord called his Servant "from his mother's womb". This statement refers in its fullest sense to Christ, but in a derivative way it can also be applied to his Precursor. Both are born as the result of a special intervention by God: the first is born of the Virgin, the second of an elderly and barren woman. Even from his mother's womb John indicates the One who will reveal to the world the loving plan of God.
Each one has a divine name: the name by which God the Father knows and loves him from eternity and for eternity
2. "From my mother's womb you called me" (Responsorial Psalm).
Today we can make our own these words of the Psalmist. God knew and loved us even before our eyes could contemplate the marvels of creation. At birth all men and women receive a human name. But even before that, each one has a divine name: the name by which God the Father knows and loves them from eternity and for eternity. This is true for everyone, with the exception of none. No one is nameless in God's sight! All have equal value in his eyes: all are different, yet all are equal, and all are called to be sons and daughters in the Son.
"His name is John" (Lk 1,63). Before his astonished kinsmen, Zechariah confirms that this is the name of his son, writing it on a tablet. God himself, through his angel, had given that name, which in Hebrew means "God is benevolent". God is benevolent to human beings: he wants them to live; he wants them to be saved. God is benevolent to his people: he wants to make of them a blessing for all the nations of the earth. God is benevolent to humanity: he guides its pilgrim way towards the land where peace and justice reign. All this is contained in that name: John!
Dear brothers and sisters! John the Baptist was the messenger, the forerunner: he was sent to prepare the way for Christ. How does the figure of St John the Baptist speak to us here, in Kyiv, at the beginning of this pilgrimage in your country? Is it not in some way providential that this figure speaks to us precisely here in Kyiv?
Kyiv itself played the role of a "precursor of the Lord' among the many peoples who would receive the proclamation of the Gospel from here.
3. This is the place of the Baptism of Rus'. From Kyiv there began that flowering of Christian life which the Gospel first brought forth in the land of the ancient Rus', then in the lands of Eastern Europe and, later, beyond the Urals, in the lands of Asia. In a certain sense, then, Kyiv itself played the role of a "precursor of the Lord" among the many peoples who would receive the proclamation of the Gospel from here.
St Volodymyr and the inhabitants of Rus" were baptized by missionaries sent from Constantinople, the greatest centre of Christianity in the East. Thus the new-born Church entered the sphere of the exceedingly rich patrimony of faith and culture of the Byzantine Church. This was at the end of the first millennium. While living according to two different traditions, the Church of Constantinople and the Church of Rome were still in full communion. As I wrote in my Apostolic Letter Euntes in Mundum: "We ought to thank the Lord together for this fact, which today represents a good omen and a hope. God willed that Mother Church, visibly united, should welcome into her bosom, already rich with nations and peoples, and at a moment of missionary expansion both in the West and in the East, this her new daughter on the banks of the Dnieper" (n. 4).
If, as we celebrate the Eucharist today according to the Roman tradition, we recall that moment so profoundly linked to the Byzantine tradition, we do so with gratitude. And we do so with the desire that the memory of the one baptism which we share will help to restore that situation of communion in which diversity of traditions posed no obstacle to unity in faith and ecclesial life.
I join you in praying that your own generation will prove worthy of the great traditions of its past
4. The Baptism which took place here, in Kyiv, inaugurated the 1,000-year history of Christianity in the lands of today's Ukraine and in the whole region. Today, having the grace of coming to this historic place, my thoughts go back through the more than 10 centuries in which the gift of that first Baptism has continued to be poured out upon successive generations of the sons and daughters of this Nation. What a flowering of spiritual, liturgical and ecclesial life developed from the meeting of different cultures and religious traditions! This splendid inheritance is now entrusted to you, dear brothers and sisters. During these days of my pilgrimage to your country, I join you in praying that your own generation, at the beginning of a new millennium, will prove worthy of the great traditions of its past.
From this City, the cradle of the Christian faith for Ukraine and for the whole area, I greet and embrace with heartfelt affection all the men and women living in these lands. In a special way I greet Cardinals Marian Jaworski and Lubomyr Husar, together with the beloved Bishop of Kyiv-Zhytomyr, Jan Purwinski, my venerable Brothers from the Ukrainian Episcopal Conference and the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. I greet the clergy, the men and women religious and the lay faithful of your glorious and sorely-tried Churches; with great courage they were able to keep alight the lamp of faith even in the dark times of persecution. I also greet the President of the Republic, Mr Leonid Kuchma, and I thank him for his presence.
John the Baptist is the model for witness to Christ along with modern martyrs
5. People of God, you who believe, hope and love in the land of Ukraine, joyfully savour once more the gift of the Gospel which you received over 1,000 years ago! Look today to John the Baptist, an enduring model of fidelity to God and his Law. John prepared the way for Christ by the testimony of his word and his life. Imitate him with docile and trusting generosity.
St John the Baptist is above all a model of faith. Following the example of the great Prophet Elijah, in order to listen more attentively to the word of the one Lord of his life, he leaves everything and withdraws to the desert, from which he would issue the resounding call to prepare the way of the Lord (cf. Mt 3,3 and parallels).
He is a model of humility, because to those who saw in him not only a Prophet, but the Messiah himself, he replied: "Who do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie" (Acts 13,25).
He is a model of uprightness and courage in defending the truth, for which he was prepared to pay in his person, even to the point of imprisonment and death.
Land of Ukraine, drenched with the blood of martyrs, thank you for the example of fidelity to the Gospel which you have given to Christians the world over! So many of your sons and daughters walked in complete fidelity to Christ; many of them remained constant even to the supreme sacrifice. May their witness serve as an example and a stimulus for the Christians of the third millennium.
Give priority to the values of the spirit as John the Baptist did
6. In the school of Christ, in the footsteps of St John the Baptist and of the saints and martyrs of this land, may you too, dear brothers and sisters, be brave enough always to give priority to the values of the spirit.
Dear Bishops, priests, men and women religious, who have faithfully accompanied this people at the price of personal sacrifices of every kind, sustaining them in the dark times of the Communist terror, I thank you and I offer you this encouragement: continue to be zealous witnesses to Christ and good shepherds of his flock in this beloved country of Ukraine.
You, dear young people, be brave and free! Do not let yourselves be taken in by the deceptive mirages of an easy happiness. Follow the way of Christ: he is demanding, certainly, but he alone can help you to savour the full meaning of life and enjoy peace of heart.
You, dear parents, prepare the way of the Lord before your children. Bring them up with love, and set a good example by living the principles you teach. And you, teachers and leaders of society, deepen your commitment to promoting the complete development of the human person, fostering in the young a deep sense of justice and of solidarity with the less fortunate.
May you be, one and all, "a light to the nations" (Is 49,6)!
7. City of Kyiv, may you be a "light to Ukraine". From you there set out the evangelizers who down the centuries have been "John the Baptists" for the peoples dwelling in these lands. How many of them, like John, suffered in order to bear witness to the truth, and by their blood became the seed of new Christians. May future generations never lack men and women of the mettle of these, your glorious ancestors.
Most Holy Virgin, Protectress of Ukraine, you have always guided the Christian people on their pilgrim way. Continue to watch over your children. Help them never to forget the "name", the spiritual identity which they received in Baptism. Help them to rejoice always in the priceless grace of being followers of Christ (cf. Jn 3,29). May you be the guide of each one. You, Mother of God and our Mother, Mary!
Just thinking out loud, any trustworthy commentary, specially from saints, about the possibility that St John the Baptist was delivered by the Virgin Mary, acting as a midwife? Just curious.
Interesting question! I never thought about that before. I don’t know of any scripture or commentary on Mary as widwife for Elizabeth at John’s birth. It seems to me that there is a good probability should would have at least been present for the birth, if not herself a midwife.
Yes, I came up with this probably not original good faith question in my mind quite a few years back, but always kinda apprehensive to ask, fearing others might think of it as offensive.
Anyway, you are right. I would think Mary was present at St John’s birth. Eveb tho I freely admit this is just a conjecture.
So now the second scratcher ... could the Virgin Mary have fed St John with her breast milk? Elizabeth was old, not that there isn’t anything God couldn’t do if He so wishes. That would be so blessed for St John. Again, I ask this question in good faith, and out of curiosity.
If the answer is affirmative to both questions, then it would be very interesting to note. This is help my meditation of the Rosary.
Birth of St. John the Baptist, Feast: June 24
Homilies preached by Father Robert Altier on the Solemnity of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist
Nativity of the Forerunner John the Baptist, June 24
Saints John The Baptist, Zachary and Elizabeth [THE BIRTH OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST]
Beheading of St John The Baptist
“You talking to me?”
There is another caveat that prompted me to ask the questions. In part it reads ..... “Minor sights include the Milk Grotto Chapel, where Mary supposedly spilled a few drops of breast milk while feeding Jesus, turning the cavern milky white. It is open all day.”
Would love to make a pilgrimage there some day.
Nativity of John the Baptist - 1523 - Rome
from The Book of Gospels, Midwest Theological Forum (see links page)
Nativity of Saint John the Baptist: Born six months before our Lord, Saint John the Baptist was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, our Lady's couin. He was the last and greatest of the prophets. As the forerunner of the Savior, he had the mission of preparing the Jews for the coming of Christ. When Jesus had come, Saint John bore witness to Him before his own followers and encouraged them to follow Him.
Source: Daily Roman Missal, Edited by Rev. James Socías, Midwest Theological Forum, Chicago, Illinois ©2003
Readings for the Birth of Saint John the Baptist
All powerful God,
help Your people to walk the path to salvation.
By following the teaching of St. John the Baptist,
may we come to your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. + Amen.
First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-6
Listen to me, O coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar. The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother He named my name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of His hand He hid me; He made me a polished arrow, in His quiver He hid me away. And He said to me, "You are My servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified." But I said, "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God."
And now the Lord says, who formed me from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, and that Israel might be gathered to Him, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord, and my God has become my strength-- He says: "It is too light a thing that you should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth."
Second Reading: Acts 13:22-26
In those days, Paul said, God raised up David to be their king; of whom He testified and said, 'I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after My heart, who will do all My will.' Of this man's posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as He promised. Before His coming John had preached a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, 'What do you suppose that I am? I am not He. No, but after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.'
"Brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you that fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation.
Gospel Reading: Luke 1:57-66, 80
Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said, "Not so; he shall be called John." And they said to her, "None of your kindred is called by this name." And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, "His name is John." And they all marveled. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, "What then will this child be?" For the hand of the Lord was with him.
And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.
Vigil Mass Readings for the Birth of Saint John the Baptist
First Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-10
'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, says the Lord." 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. 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 and to plant."
Second Reading: 1 Peter 1:8-12
Without having seen Him you love Him; though you do not now see Him you believe in Him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.
The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation; they inquired what person or time was indicated by the Spirit of Christ within them when predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things which 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 long to look.
Gospel Reading: Luke 1:5-17
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared."
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