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Tag Archives: Nativity of St John the Baptist

O FOR THY SPIRIT (HYMN)

O FOR THY SPIRIT (HYMN)

O for thy spirit, holy John, to chasten

Lips sin-polluted, fettered tongues to loosen;

So by thy children might thy deeds of wonder

Meetly be chanted.

 

Lo! a swift herald, from the skies descending,

Bears to thy father’s promise of thy greatness;

How he shall name thee, what thy future story,

Duly revealing.

 

Scarcely believing message so transcendent,

Him for season power of speech forsaketh,

Till, at thy wondrous birth, again returneth

Voice to the voiceless.

 

Thou, in thy mother’s womb all darkly cradled,

Knewest thy Monarch, biding in his chamber,

Whence the two parents, through their children’s merits,

Mysteries uttered.

 

Praise to the Father, to the Sole-begotten,

And to the Spirit, equal power possessing,

One God whose glory, through the lapse of ages,

Ever resoundeth.

Amen.

 

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 
 

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IN CAVES OF THE LONE WILDERNESS (HYMN)

In caves of the lone wilderness your youth
You hid while shunning contact with all men,
To guard thus pure the treasure of your soul
From the least touch of sin.

Your sacred limbs were cloth’d in camel hide;
You slept upon a bed of hardest rock.
The stream your thirst, locusts and honey wild
Your hunger satisfied.

Eternal glory to the Father be,
Praise to the sole-begotten Son,
With you, co-equal Spirit, One in Three,
While endless ages run. Amen.

 

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PRAYER ON THE SOLEMNITY OF THE BIRTH OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST

PETITIONS:

May we prepare the way of the Lord so that He may enter more fully into our daily lives.
V. Lord, hear us.
R. Lord, graciously hear us.

May we, like John the Baptist, be protected in the shadow of the Lord’s hand.
V. Lord, hear us.
R. Lord, graciously hear us.

PRAYER:

O God, as you grant us today’s feast of Saint John’s birthday, give to your people the grace of joy in the Spirit, and guide the hearts of all Christians in 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, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

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SOLEMNITY OF THE BIRTH OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST, GOSPEL READING (LUKE 1:57-66, 80)

HIS NAME IS JOHN.

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. The child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel.

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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SOLEMNITY OF THE BIRTH OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST, BIBLE READING II (ACTS 13:22-26)

JESUS, WHOSE COMING WAS HERALDED BY JOHN.

Paul said: “God made David the king of our ancestors, 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.”

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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SOLEMNITY OF THE BIRTH OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST, PSALM (PSALM 138)

R. I thank you for the wonder of my being.

1. 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. (R.)

2. 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. (R.)

3. 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. (R.)

ALLELUIA

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!

 

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SOLEMNITY OF THE BIRTH OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST, BIBLE READING I (ISAIAH 49:1-6)

I WILL MAKE YOU THE LIGHT OF THE NATIONS SO THAT MY SALVATION MAY REACH TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.

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.”

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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SOLEMNITY OF THE BIRTH OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST, VIGIL, BIBLE READING (JEREMIAH 1:4-10)

BEFORE I FORMED YOU IN THE WOMB, I KNEW YOU.

The word of the Lord was addressed to me, saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
before you came to birth I consecrated you;
I have appointed you as prophet to the nations.
I said, ‘Ah, Lord; look, I do not know how to speak: I am a child!”
But the Lord replied,
“Do not say, ‘I am a child.’
Go now to those to whom I send you
and say whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to protect you –
it is the Lord who speaks!”
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me:
“There! I am putting words into your mouth.
Look, today I am setting you
over nations and over kingdoms,
to tear up and to knock down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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“ST JOHN THE BAPTIST IS USUALLY PICTURED AS THE SORT OF PERSON YOU MIGHT TRY AND AVOID IF HE GOT ON YOUR BUS”

“St John the Baptist is usually pictured as the sort of person you might try and avoid if he got on your bus. With his ragged beard, unkempt hair and rough animal-skin clothes, he doesn’t look like he’s washed for a while. All the more surprising, then, that he developed a huge following – a following so big that King Herod Antipas (son of the King Herod who slaughtered the innocents in Bethlehem) thought he was enough of a threat to imprison him and finally behead him. Who was John and why was he so important?

NO ORDINARY CHILD

The Gospels tell us a great deal about John the Baptist. Luke’s Gospel begins with the story of John’s miraculous birth. It tell how Zechariah doesn’t believe the angel Gabriel when he brings news that the old priest and his elderly wife will have a son. Gabriel strikes Zechariah dumb as a sign to make him finally believe. Gabriel also makes clear that this will be no ordinary child. John’s mission is set out for him before he is even conceived. John is to prepare the people of Israel for the Lord. And Zechariah acknowledges this, as he regains the power of speech in his great prayer after John’s birth: ‘… you shall be called Prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way for him.’

So it is clear from the start that John is not simply another prophet, like those of the Old Testament. He is the cousin of Jesus and his contemporary, yet his job is to get people ready for the arrival of Jesus on the public scene. He is sometimes called the Precursor or the Forerunner because of his unique relationship to Christ. In art John is usually pointing to Christ. Whether this is the actual figure of Christ in the painting, or a lamb (symbolising Jesus), or whether he points to heaven, the images make clear that John is trying to deflect the viewers’ attention away from himself to Jesus.

A STRUGGLE

Deflecting attention was a struggle. With his large following it would have been easy for John to have made himself wealthy and powerful through his ministry. But John was no self-aggrandising minister, lining his pockets. In fact he was quite the opposite. He continually referred people back to the important message that someone greater was coming. We can read John’s words in [the] Gospel: ‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the straps of his sandals.’ Many at the time thought that this meant that a great military leader was coming who would rescue them from both Herod and the Romans, but John’s message is that the one who is coming is filled not with military might, but with the Holy Spirit.

FULFILMENT

The moment of the baptism of Jesus is when John’s message comes to fulfilment. In accepting baptism Jesus endorses John’s ministry. But the occasion is more than just an endorsement of John. It is a public statement of who Jesus is. This baptism marks the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.

Jesus takes over from John, finally revealing himself both as the longed-for Christ and as the fulfilment of all John’s prophecies. In contrast to the silencing of Zechariah, the sign in this case is the voice heard from heaven, clearly affirming that Jesus is God’s Son, the Beloved. The baptism of the Lord is the culmination of John’s work. John brings Jesus to the forefront of everyone’s attention and shows them that Jesus really is the Christ, the one he has been preparing them for, the one they have been awaiting so long.”
– from “Sunday Bulletin”, 11th January 2009

 

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