Monday, August 29, 2016

Feast of St. John the Baptist

Gospel Mk 6:17-29

Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers,
his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee.
Herodias’ own daughter came in
and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
“Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request,
“I want you to give me at once
on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders
to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.




CaravaggioSalomeLondon.jpg
Caravaggio's Salome with the Head of John the Baptist, 1607-10
There is a lovely reflection upon the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist at Clutching My Rosary. "How beautiful, as St. John Chrysostom remarks, is this liberty of speech, when it is truly the liberty of God’s Word, when it is an echo of heaven’s language! Then, indeed, it is a stumbling-block to tyranny, the safeguard of the world, and of God’s rights, the bulwark of a nation’s honor as well as of its temporal and eternal interests. Death has no power over it. ... Thus the feast of the Decollation of St. John may be considered as one of the landmarks of the Liturgical Year."
 
How I pray for the courage of St. John and the eloquence of the Church Fathers. Yet I am grateful to share only the words of others. I recognize in myself, as St. Augustine says, "the ever-growing powerlessness of those souls to express what our Lord is working in them. Happy to have led the bride to the Bridegroom, let them learn to say with John: He must increase, but I must decrease." It is no wonder that two years ago, I shared a novena to St. John the BaptistToday, a Litany.
 
Lord, have mercy on us,  Lord, have mercy on us. 
Christ, hear us.  Christ, graciously hear us. 
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, 
Have mercy on us. 

Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
 
Holy Mary, Pray for us.
Queen of Prophets,
Pray for us.

Queen of Martyrs, Pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, precursor of Christ, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, glorious forerunner of the Sun of Justice, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, minister of Baptism to Jesus, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, burning and shining lamp of the world, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, angel of purity before thy birth, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, special friend and favorite of Christ, Pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, heavenly contemplative, whose element was prayer, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, intrepid preacher of truth, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, voice crying in the wilderness, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, miracle of mortification and penance, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, example of profound humility, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, glorious martyr of zeal for God's holy law, Pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, gloriously fulfilling thy mission, Pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
Pray for us, O glorious St. John the Baptist, That we may be made worthy of the promises of  Christ.
Let Us Pray. O God, Who hast honored this world by the birth of Saint John the Baptist,
grant that Thy faithful people may rejoice in the way of eternal salvation,
through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

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