Nativity of Saint John Baptist
ALMIGHTY God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour by preaching repentance; Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.The 24th of June is midsummer. It is exactly six months from the birth of Jesus, in accordance with the timing given in Luke This was a great Midsummer Feast day with many old traditions. "June 23 - is the Vigil of the Nativity of John the Baptist. This is the night when one can wait to see if the Sun will rise just a tiny bit South on the horizon that it did the day before. On the Day when you might be able to see that the Sun has risen slightly to the South presaging that the hours of light are getting shorter, the Saint whose job was to say the Light is coming is celebrated! Likewise, on the opposite end of the year, December 25th, the day when you can first tell that the days are getting longer under the old calendar, the Light of the World, Jesus, is born."
Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist
Isaiah xl. 1 & St. Luke i. 57
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel;
for he hath visited and redeemed his people
THE GREAT FORERUNNER OF THE MORN
Isaiah xl. 1COMFORT ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
St. Luke i. 57ELISABETH'S full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.
Other Homilies: John Chrysostom on the Baptist's life.. Matthew iii. 1-6
24 June The Birth of St John the Baptist
The Church observes the day of John's birth as a holy day: none of the fathers is thus solemnly commemorated. We celebrate John's birth as we celebrate Christ's. I cannot let this feast pass without a sermon, and if I speak more briefly than the dignity of the subject demands, its very profundity gives you food for thought. John's mother was old and barren while Christ's mother was young and a virgin. John's father was struck dumb for not believing that he would be born. The Virgin Mary believed and conceived Christ in faith. That is what we are to investigate and that is what I propose to talk about. But I have set out the mystery first so that if I find myself incapable of plumbing all the depths of it either for lack of time or lack of skill the Holy Spirit will enlighten you. His voice will make itself heard in your heart, without mine; for he is in your mind and heart, you are his temples. John marks the frontier between the Old and the New Testaments. The Lord speaks of him as a boundary line: 'The law and the prophets are valid until John the Baptist.' He represents the Old Testament and at the same time introduces the New. His parents were old, in keeping with his first role: while yet in his mother's womb he was saluted as a prophet, in recognition of his second. Although he was not yet born at the time of Mary's visitation, he leaped in his mother's womb. His mission was made clear, even before he was born. He was revealed as Christ's precursor, before he so much as saw him. These divine mysteries transcend man's feeble understanding. When at last he was born and received his name, his father's tongue was loosened. Consider the symbolic significance of what happened. Zachary fell silent and lost the power of speech until John, the Lord's precursor, was born and restored his speech. Is not Zachary's silence a hidden prophecy, kept secret and, as it were, pent up before Christ could be proclaimed? His speech was restored at John's birth, his voice was made clear when he came as had been foretold. The restoration of Zachary's power of speech is like the rending of the veil of the temple when Christ was crucified. If John proclaimed himself, he could not have restored his father's speech. Zachary's tongue was loosened because a voice was born. When John was announcing our Lord's coming he was asked: 'Who are you?' He replied: 'I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.' John was a 'voice', but in the beginning the Lord was the Word. John was a voice for a time: but Christ, who in the beginning was the Word, is the Word in eternity.