The Birthday of Saint John the Baptist

+Luke 1:5-17
‘Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son’

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.’


Jeremiah 1:4-10
Go and say whatever I command you and do not fear

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 my 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.’


Psalm 70(71):1-6,15,17
My lips will tell of your help.

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, free me:
pay heed to me and save me.
My lips will tell of your help.
Be a rock where I can take refuge,
a mighty stronghold to save me;
for you are my rock, my stronghold.
Free me from the hand of the wicked.
My lips will tell of your help.
It is you, O Lord, who are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, since my youth.
On you I have leaned from my birth,
from my mother’s womb you have been my help.
My lips will tell of your help.
My lips will tell of your justice
and day by day of your help.
O God, you have taught me from my youth
and I proclaim your wonders still.
My lips will tell of your help.

Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church
John, precursor, prophet, and baptist

717 “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” John was “filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb” by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.

718 John is “Elijah [who] must come.” The fire of the Spirit dwells in him and makes him the forerunner of the coming Lord. In John, the precursor, the Holy Spirit completes the work of “[making] ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

719 John the Baptist is “more than a prophet.” In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah. He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel; he is the “voice” of the Consoler who is coming. As the Spirit of truth will also do, John “came to bear witness to the light.” In John’s sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels. “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. . . . Behold, the Lamb of God.”

720 Finally, with John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to man of “the divine likeness,” prefiguring what he would achieve with and in Christ. John’s baptism was for repentance; baptism in water and the Spirit will be a new birth.

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Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

+Matthew 17:10-13

Elijah has come already and they did not recognise him

As they came down from the mountain the disciples put this question to Jesus, ‘Why do the scribes say that Elijah has to come first?’ ‘True;’ he replied ‘Elijah is to come to see that everything is once more as it should be; however, I tell you that Elijah has come already and they did not recognise him but treated him as they pleased; and the Son of Man will suffer similarly at their hands.’ The disciples understood then that he had been speaking of John the Baptist.


+Ecclesiasticus 48:1-4,9-12

The prophet Elijah will come again

The prophet Elijah arose like a fire,

his word flaring like a torch.

It was he who brought famine on the people,

and who decimated them in his zeal.

By the word of the Lord, he shut up the heavens,

he also, three times, brought down fire.

How glorious you were in your miracles, Elijah!

Has anyone reason to boast as you have?

Taken up in the whirlwind of fire,

in a chariot with fiery horses;

designated in the prophecies of doom

to allay God’s wrath before the fury breaks,

to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children,

and to restore the tribes of Jacob,

Happy shall they be who see you,

and those who have fallen asleep in love.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

John, precursor, prophet, and baptist

717 “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” John was “filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb” by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.

718 John is “Elijah [who] must come.” The fire of the Spirit dwells in him and makes him the forerunner of the coming Lord. In John, the precursor, the Holy Spirit completes the work of “[making] ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

719 John the Baptist is “more than a prophet.” In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah. He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel; he is the “voice” of the Consoler who is coming. As the Spirit of truth will also do, John “came to bear witness to the light.” In John’s sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels. “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. . . . Behold, the Lamb of God.”

720 Finally, with John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to man of “the divine likeness,” prefiguring what he would achieve with and in Christ. John’s baptism was for repentance; baptism in water and the Spirit will be a new birth.


Psalm 79(80):2-3,15-16,18-19

A psalm of Asaph. O God, the nations have invaded your heritage; they have defiled your holy temple, have laid Jerusalem in ruins.

They have left the corpses of your servants as food for the birds of the heavens, the flesh of your faithful for the beasts of the earth.

They have spilled their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and no one is left to bury them.

We have become the reproach of our neighbors, the scorn and derision of those around us.

How long, LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your rage keep burning like fire?

Pour out your wrath on nations that reject you, on kingdoms that do not call on your name,

For they have devoured Jacob, laid waste his home.

Do not hold past iniquities against us; may your compassion come quickly, for we have been brought very low.

Help us, God our savior, for the glory of your name. Deliver us, pardon our sins for your name’s sake.

Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Before our eyes make clear to the nations that you avenge the blood of your servants.

Let the groans of prisoners come before you; by your great power free those doomed to death.

Lord, inflict on our neighbors seven fold the disgrace they inflicted on you.

Then we, your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; through all ages we will declare your praise.

Source: The New American Bible