Thứ Sáu, 23 tháng 6, 2017


Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Mass during the Day
Lectionary: 587

Reading 1IS 49:1-6
Hear me, O coastlands,
listen, O distant peoples.
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother's 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.

Responsorial PsalmPS 139:1B-3, 13-14AB, 14C-15
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 mother's 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.

Reading 2ACTS 13:22-26
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 man's 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."

AlleluiaSEE LK 1:76
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.

Meditation: "The hand of the Lord was with him"
Birthdays are a special time to remember and give thanks for the blessings that have come our way. Are you grateful for the ways that God has worked in your life, even from your birth? In many churches of the East and West the birth of John the Baptist is remembered on this day. The friends of Zechariah and Elizabeth marveled at the wonderful way in which God blessed them with a child. This child was destined by God for an important mission. The last verses in the last book of the Old Testament, taken from the prophet Malachi, speak of the Lord’s messenger, the prophet Elijah who will return to "turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers" (Malachi 4:6).
Birth and mission of John the Baptist
We see the beginning of the fulfillment of this word when the Angel Gabriel announced to Zechariah the marvelous birth and mission of John the Baptist (Luke 1:17). When this newly born child was about to be named, as customary on the eighth day, his relatives quibbled over what name to give him. (Don't relatives today often do the same when the time comes for naming a newborn?) This child, however has been named from above! And Elizabeth is firm in her faith and determined to see that God be glorified through this child. The name John means "the Lord is gracious". In the birth of John and in the birth of Jesus the Messiah we see the grace of God breaking forth into a world broken by sin and without hope. John’s miraculous birth shows the mercy and favor of God in preparing his people for the coming of its Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
John the Baptist's life was fueled by one burning passion - to point others to Jesus Christ and to the coming of God's kingdom. Scripture tells us that John was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb (Luke 1:15, 41) by Christ himself, whom Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, John lept in the womb of Elizabeth as they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). The fire of the Spirit dwelt in John and made him the forerunner of the coming Messiah. John was led by the Spirit into the wilderness prior to his ministry where he was tested and grew in the word of God. John's clothing was reminiscent of the prophet Elijah (see Kings 1:8).
John broke the prophetic silence of the previous centuries when he began to speak the word of God to the people of Israel. His message was similar to the message of the Old Testament prophets who chided the people of God for their unfaithfulness and who tried to awaken true repentance in them. Among a people unconcerned with the things of God, it was his work to awaken their interest, unsettle them from their complacency, and arouse in them enough good will to recognize and receive Christ when he came.
God's gracious gift to us
What is the significance of John the Baptist and his message for our lives? When God acts to save us he graciously fills us with his Holy Spirit and makes our faith come "alive" to his promises. Each and every day the Lord is ready to renew us in faith, hope, and love. Like John the Baptist, the Lord invites each of us to make our life a free-will offering to God. God wants to fill us with his glory all the days of our lives, from birth through death. Renew the offering of your life to God and give him thanks for his mercy and favor towards you.
"Lord Jesus, you bring hope and salvation to a world lost in sin, despair, and suffering. Let your grace refresh and restore your people today in the hope and joy of your great victory over sin and death."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersParallels between John and Jesus, by Ephrem the Syrian (306-373 AD)
"The elderly Elizabeth gave birth to the last of the prophets, and Mary, a young girl, to the Lord of the angels. The daughter of Aaron gave birth to the voice in the desert (Isaiah 63:9), but the daughter of David to the strong God of the earth. The barren one gave birth to him who remits sins, but the Virgin gave birth to him who takes them away (John 1:29). Elizabeth gave birth to him who reconciled people through repentance, but Mary gave birth to him who purified the lands of uncleanness. The elder one lit a lamp in the house of Jacob, his father, for this lamp itself was John (John 5:35), while the younger one lit the Sun of Justice (Malachi 4:2) for all the nations. The angel announced to Zechariah, so that the slain one would proclaim the crucified one and that the hated one would proclaim the envied one. He who was to baptize with water would proclaim him who would baptize with fire and with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11). The light, which was not obscure, would proclaim the Sun of Justice. The one filled with the Spirit would proclaim concerning him who gives the Spirit. The priest calling with the trumpet would proclaim concerning the one who is to come at the sound of the trumpet at the end. The voice would proclaim concerning the Word, and the one who saw the dove would proclaim concerning him upon whom the dove rested, like the lightning before the thunder." (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON TATIAN’S DIATESSARON 1.31)

SATURDAY, JUNE 24, LUKE 1:57-66, 80

(Isaiah 49:1-6; Psalm 139; Acts 13:22-26)

KEY VERSE: "And he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel" (v 80).
TO KNOW: For centuries, the voice of the prophets had been silent. That silence was broken with the proclamation of John the Baptist, the last and greatest of the prophets, who stood at the threshold between the Old and New Testament. This new era was symbolized by the loosening of the tongue of Zechariah (John's father). While offering incense in the Temple, Zechariah had doubted the angel's announcement of the forthcoming birth of a son (Lk 1:20), and he became mute. On the day of John's circumcision (a rite incorporating the child as a member of the people of Israel, Gn 17:9-12), Zechariah obeyed the angel's command by naming his son John meaning "Yahweh is gracious." Zechariah regained his voice and sang praises to God for having "visited his people with redemption" (v 68). The people were amazed, wondering what would become of this favored child of God. The gospel tells us that John's mission was to prepare the way for the Lord.
TO LOVE: Do I use my tongue to offer praise to God?
TO SERVE: St. John the Baptist, pray that I might be a courageous witness to God's kingdom.

NOTE: The Nativity of John the Baptist
The Church's commemorations of the saints are celebrated on the date of their deaths, or “heavenly birthdays.” The Nativity of John the Baptist is one of two exceptions in that it is the commemoration of the birth of the saint rather than the day of his death. The other exception is the Virgin Mary. As to the date of the birth of John the Baptist, nothing can be said with certainty. The Gospel suggests that he was born about six months before Christ; but the year of his nativity is also uncertain due to variations in calendars. The Church celebrates the birth of John the Baptist at the time of the year (June 24) when the day begins to grow shorter after the summer solstice, whereas the Nativity of Christ occurs (December 25) when the day begins to grow longer after the winter solstice. This is an embodiment of the words spoken by the Baptist, after the beginning of Christ's preaching: "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).

Saturday 24 June 2017

Birthday of John the Baptist.

Isaiah 49:1-6. Psalms 138(139):1-3, 13-15. Acts 13:22-26. Luke 1:57-66, 80.
I praise you, for I am wonderfully made — Psalms 138(139):1-3, 13-15.
‘His name is John.’
John’s baptism means good news as it foreshadows Jesus’ birth and his coming. John, the prophet and precursor to Jesus, is strong in spirit and we are told that the hand of the Lord was with him. While John baptises with water, Jesus baptises with the Holy Spirit and fills us with a burning desire to be close to Jesus and understand his ways.
Zechariah opens his heart to God so that God’s will becomes his own will. It is the beginning of a much more personal and intimate relationship with God.
The barrier that fear often creates has disappeared, revealing a greater level of trust in Zechariah’s heart that his will is God’s will too.


John the Baptist spent his adult life preparing the way for Jesus, and proclaiming that “the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.”. He was born to Zachary and Elizabeth, an elderly married couple. The Angel Gabriel had visited Zachary and told him that his wife would bear a child, even though she was already past the child-bearing age.
Elizabeth was Mary’s cousin and Zachary was a priest of the Temple in Jerusalem. As a baby in the womb, John recognized Jesus’ presence in Mary’s womb when Mary visited Elizabeth soon after the Annunciation. Both women were pregnant at the same time.
John was probably born at Ain-Karim, which is southwest of Jerusalem. As a young adult, he lived as a hermit in the desert of Judea until about A.D. 27. When he was 30, he began to preach on the banks of the Jordan, calling for repentance and baptizing people in the river waters. When Jesus came to John to be baptized, John recognized Jesus as the Messiah and baptized Him, saying: “It is I who need baptism from you.”
John continued to preach after Jesus was baptized, but was imprisoned not long after by Herod Antipas, after he denounced the king’s adulterous marriage with Herodias, wife of his half-brother Philip.
John was beheaded at the request of Salome, daughter of Herodias. Many came to know Jesus through John, namely the Apostles Andrew and John.

Lectio Divina: 
 Saturday, June 24, 2017

Birth of the Precursor of the Lord
Prayer of Cardinal Mercier to the Holy Spirit
Oh God, who has instructed your faithful, enlightening their hearts with the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us that in the same Spirit we may have the desire to do good and to enjoy always his comfort.
May there be Glory, adoration, love, and blessing to You Eternal Divine Spirit, Who has brought to earth for us the Saviour of our souls. And may there be glory and honour to His most adorable Heart Who loves us with an infinite love.
Oh Holy Spirit, soul of my soul, I adore You: enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me, teach me what I should do, give me your orders.
I promise to submit myself to all that will happen to me, allowed by You: I ask only that I may know Your Will.
From the Gospel according to Luke (1, 57-66.80)
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 lavished on her his faithful love, they shared her joy. Now it happened that 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.
Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit grew strong. And he lived in the desert until the day he appeared openly to Israel.
3.1. Key to the Reading
This passage of the Gospel forms part of the so called accounts of the infancy of Jesus. In a particular way this text follows the scene of the Visitation of Mary “in the house of Zechariah” (Lk 1, 40) after the event of the Annunciation of the Angel, the messenger of the new creation.
In fact, the Annunciation inaugurates in a joyful way the fulfilment of God’s promise to His People (Lk 1, 26-38). The joy of the new times, which filled Mary, now inundates the heart of Elizabeth. She rejoices with the announcement brought by Mary (Lk 1, 41). Mary, on the other hand, “magnifies the Lord” (Lk 1, 46) because He has worked great things in her, just as He has worked great marvels for His people in need of salvation.
The expression “the time came” reminds us that this reality does not only strike Elizabeth about to give birth, but reveals also something of God’s project. In fact, Saint Paul tells us that when the completion of the time came, God sent His Only Begotten Son “born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to redeem the subjects of the Law, so that we could receive adoption of sons” of God (Gal 4, 4).
In the Gospel Jesus in fact, speaks about the completion of times, especially in the Gospel of John. Two of these times are the wedding at Cana (Jn 2, 1-12) and the agony on the cross where Jesus exclaims that “all is fulfilled” (Jn 19, 30). In the fulfilment of the times Jesus inaugurates an era of salvation. The birth of John the Baptist inaugurates this time of salvation. In fact, at the arrival of the Messiah he exults and leaps in the womb of his mother, Elizabeth (Lk 1, 44). Later on, he will define himself as the friend of the bridegroom (Jesus) who exults and rejoices because of the event of the wedding with the bride, the Church (Jn 3, 29).
The son will not be named as his father Zechariah, but John. Zechariah reminds us that God does not forget His people. In fact, his name means “God remembers”. His son will now be called “God remembers”, because God’s promises were being fulfilled. The prophetic mission of John has to indicate God’s mercy. In fact, he will be called Johanan, that is “God is mercy”. This mercy is manifested in the visit to the People, precisely “as he had promised by the mouth of his holy prophets of ancient times” (Lk 1, 67-70). Thus, the name indicates the mission of the one about to be born. Zechariah will write the name of his son on a tablet so that all could see with admiration (Lk 1, 63). This tablet is the echo of another inscription, written by Pilate to be fixed on the cross of Jesus. This inscription revealed the identity of the mission of the Crucified: “Jesus, the Nazarene, King of the Jews” (Jn 19, 19). This writing also provoked the admiration of those who were in Jerusalem for the feast.
John is the precursor of Jesus in everything. Already since his birth and childhood he points out to Christ. “Who will this child be? He is “the voice which cries out in the desert” (Jn 1, 23), impelling all to prepare the way of the Lord. He is not the Messiah (Jn 1, 20), but he indicates this with his preaching and above all with his life style of asceticism in the desert. Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit grew strong. He lived in the desert until the day he appeared openly to Israel”. (Lk 1, 80).
3.1.1. Questions to direct the meditation and the carrying out
- What has struck you in this passage and in the reflection?
- John identifies himself as the friend of the bridegroom. According to you, what is the meaning of this image?
- John the Baptist has always been seen by the Church as its type. He is the one who prepares the way for the Lord. Does this have some relevance for our daily life?
Let us bless the Lord together with Zechariah (Lk 1, 68-79)
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
for he has visited his people, he has set them free,
and he has established for us a saving power
in the House of his servant David,
just as he proclaimed,
by the mouth of his holy prophets from ancient times,
that he would save us from our enemies
and from the hands of all those who hate us,
and show faithful love to our ancestors,
and so keep in mind his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham,
that he would grant us, free from fear,
to be delivered from the hands of our enemies,
to serve him in holiness and uprightness in his presence,
all our days.
And you, little child,
you shall be called Prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare a way for him,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the faithful love of our God
in which the rising Sun has come from on high to visit us,
to give light to those who live in darkness
and the shadow dark as death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Let us all together adore the mercy and the goodness of God repeating in silence:
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen