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Tag Archives: Zechariah

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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TODAY’S BIBLE READING I (ZECHARIAH 9:9-10)

SEE NOW, YOUR KING COMES HUMBLY TO YOU.

The Lord says this:
‘Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion!
Shout with gladness, daughter of Jerusalem!
See now, your king comes to you;
he is victorious, he is triumphant,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
He will banish chariots from Ephraim
and horses from Jerusalem;
the bow of war will be banished.
He will proclaim peace for the nations.
His empire shall stretch from sea to sea,
from the River 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, 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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“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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TODAY’S BIBLE READING (2 CHRONICLES 24:17-25)

YOU MURDERED ZECHARIAH BETWEEN THE SANCTUARY AND THE ALTAR.

After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came to pay court to the king, and the king now turned to them for advice. The Judaeans abandoned the Temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, for the worship of sacred poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger fell on Judah and Jerusalem. He sent them prophets to bring them back to the Lord, but when these gave their message, they would not listen. The spirit of God took possession of Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood up before the people and said, “God says this, ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord to no good purpose? You have deserted the Lord, now he deserts you.'” They then plotted against him and by order of the king stoned him in the court of the Temple of the Lord. King Joash, forgetful of the kindness that Jehoiada, the father of Zechariah, had shown him, killed Jehoiada’s son who cried out as he died, “The Lord sees and he will avenge!”

When a year had gone by, the Aramaean army made war on Joash. They reacheed Judah and Jerusalem, and executed all the officials among the people, sending back to the king at Damascus all that they had plundered from them. Though the Aramaean army had by no means come in force, the Lord delivered into its power an army of great size for having deserted him, the God of their ancestors.

The Aramaeans treated Joash as he had deserved, and when they retired they left him a very sick man; and his officers, plotting against him to avenge the death of the son of Jehoiada the priest, murdered him in his bed. So he died, and they buried him in the Citadel of David, though not in the tombs of the kings.

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

 

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23rd DECEMBER, GOSPEL READING (LUKE 1:57-66)

THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.

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 through 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.

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

 
 

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19th DECEMBER, GOSPEL READING (LUKE 1:5-25)

THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST IS ANNOUNCED BY GABRIEL.

In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a priest called Zechariah who belonged to the Abijah section of the priesthood, and he had a wife, Elizabeth by name, who was a descendant of Aaron. Both were worthy in the sight of God, and scrupulously observed all the commandments and observances of the Lord. But they were childless: Elizabeth was barren and they were both getting on in years.

Now it was the turn of Zechariah’s section to serve, and he was exercising his priestly office before God when it fell to him by lot, as the ritual custom was, to enter the Lord’s sanctuary and burn incense there. And at the hour of incense the whole congregation was outside, praying.

Then there appeared to him the angel of the Lord, standing on the right of the altar of incense. The sight disturbed Zechariah and he was overcome with fear. But the angel said to him, “Zechariah, do not be afraid, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son and you must name him John. He will be your joy and delight and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord; he must drink no wine, no strong drink. Even from his mother’s womb he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will bring back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah, he will go before him to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and the disobedient back to the wisdom that the virtuous have, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him.”

Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is getting on in years.” The angel replied, “I am Gabriel who stand in God’s presence, and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news. Listen! Since you have not believed my words, which will come true at their appointed time, you will be silenced and have no power of speech until this has happened.” Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were surprised that he stayed in the sanctuary so long. When he came out he could not speak to them, and they realised that he had received a vision in the sanctuary. But he could only make signs to them, and remained dumb.

When his time of service came to an end, he returned home. Some time later his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept to herself. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said, “now that it has pleased him to take away the humiliation I suffered among men.”

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

 
 

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