Office of Readings
The Nativity of John the Baptist
June 24

O, God, make speed to save us.
O, Lord, make haste to help us.

Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One
Have mercy on us (3x)

The Psalms

Ant. 1:The Lord called me before I was born; from my mother's womb he named me.

The king rejoices in your strength, O LORD; *
     how greatly he exults in your victory!
You have given him his heart's desire; *
     you have not denied him the request of his lips.
For you meet him with blessings of prosperity, *
     and set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
He asked you for life, and you gave it to him: *
     length of days, for ever and ever.
His honor is great, because of your victory; *
     splendor and majesty have you bestowed upon him.
For you will give him everlasting felicity *
     and will make him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king puts his trust in the LORD; *
     because of the loving-kindness of the Most High, he will not fall.
Be exalted, O LORD, in your might; *
     we will sing and praise your power.
Ant. 1:The Lord called me before I was born; from my mother's womb he named me.

Ant. 2: The Lord made my tongue a sharp sword; he hid me in the shadow of his hand.

It is a good thing to give thanks to the LORD, *
     and to sing praises to your Name, O Most High;
To tell of your loving-kindness early in the morning *
     and of your faithfulness in the night season;
On the psaltery, and on the lyre, *
     and to the melody of the harp.
For you have made me glad by your acts, O LORD; *
     and I shout for joy because of the works of your hands.
LORD, how great are your works! *
     your thoughts are very deep.
The dullard does not know,
nor does the fool understand, *
     that though the wicked grow like weeds,
     and all the workers of iniquity flourish,
They flourish only to be destroyed for ever; *
     but you, O LORD, are exalted for evermore.
Ant. 2:The Lord made my tongue a sharp sword; he hid me in the shadow of his hand.

Ant. 3: John testified: He who is to come after me existed before me.

For lo, your enemies, O LORD,
lo, your enemies shall perish, *
     and all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.
But my horn you have exalted like the horns of wild bulls; *
     I am anointed with fresh oil.
My eyes also gloat over my enemies, *
     and my ears rejoice to hear the doom of the wicked who rise up
                                against me.
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, *
     and shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon.
Those who are planted in the house of the LORD *
     shall flourish in the courts of our God;
They shall still bear fruit in old age; *
     they shall be green and succulent;
That they may show how upright the LORD is, *
     my Rock, in whom there is no fault.
Ant. 3: John testified: He who is to come after me existed before me.

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.

Biblical Reading

Jeremiah 1:4-10,17-19

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’

Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.’ But the Lord said to me,

‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord.’

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
‘Now I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.’

But you, gird up your loins; stand up and tell them everything that I command you. Do not break down before them, or I will break you before them. And I for my part have made you today a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall, against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I consecrated you.
    -    and I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
I have placed my words in your mouth; I have set you over nations and over kingdoms.
    -    and I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

Reading from the Church Fathers

From a sermon by St. Augustine, bishop.

The Church observes the birth of John as a hallowed event. We have no such commemoration for any other fathers; but it is significant that we celebrate the birthdays of John and of Jesus. This day cannot be passed by. And even if my explanation does not match the dignity of the feast, you may still meditate on it with great depth and profit.
John was born of a woman too old for childbirth; Christ was born of a youthful virgin.  The news of John's birth was met with incredulity, and his father was struck dumb.  Christ's birth was believed, and he was conceived through faith.
Such is the topic, as I have presented it, for our inquiry and discussion.  But as I said before, if I lack either the time or the ability to study the implications of so profound a mysterry, the Spirit who speaks within you even when I am not here will teach you better; it its the Spirit whom you contemplate with devotion, whom you have welcomed into your hearts, whose temples you have become.
John, then, appears as the boundary between the two testaments, the old and the new. That he is a sort of boundary the Lord himself bears witness, when he speaks of "the law and the prophets up until John the Baptist." Thus he represents times past and is the herald of the new era to come. As a representative of the past, he is born of aged parents; as a herald of the new era, he is declared to be a prophet while still in his mother's womb. For when yet unborn, he leapt in his mother's womb at the arrival of blessed Mary. In that womb he had already been designated a prophet, even before he was born; it was revealed that he was to be Christ's precursor, before they ever saw one another. These are divine happenings, going beyond the limits of our human frailty. Eventually he is born, he receives his name, his father's tongue is loosened.  See how these events reflect reality.
Zechariah is silent and loses his voice until John, the precursor of the Lord, is born and restores his voice. The silence of Zechariah is nothing but the age of prophecy lying hidden, obscured, as it were, and concealed before the preaching of Christ. At John's arrival Zechariah's voice is released, and it becomes clear at the coming of the one who was foretold.  The release of Zechariah's voice at the birth of John is a parallel to the rending of the veil at Christ's crucifixion.  If John were announcing his own coming, Zechariah's lips would not have been opened. The tongue is loosened because a voice is born.
When John was preaching the Lord's coming he was asked, "Who are you?" And he replied: "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness." The voice is John, but the Lord "in the beginning was the Word." John was a voice that lasted only for a time; Christ, the Word in the beginning, is eternal.
Sermon 293:1-3

You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
    -    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
The give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.
    -    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.

Te Deum Laudamus

You are God: we praise you;
You are the Lord; we acclaim you;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.
To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you;
Father, of majesty unbounded,
your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.

You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When you became man to set us free
you did not shun the Virgin's womb.
You overcame the sting of death
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God's right hand in glory.
We believe that you will come and be our judge.
Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.

Closing Prayer:
O God, you raised up the blessed John the Baptist to make ready a perfect people for Christ the Lord.
Give your people the grace of spiritual joy
 and guide the minds of all the faithful
 onto the path of salvation and peace.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
 who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
 God for ever and ever.


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