- Monday, 29 August 2011 08:54
O God, who willed that Saint John the Baptist should
go ahead of your Son both in birth and in death, grant that as he died a Martyr
for truth and justice, we, too, may fight hard for the confession of what you
There is no
doubt that blessed John suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our
Redeemer, whose forerunner he was, and gave his life for him. His persecutor
had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep
silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say:
“I am the truth”? Therefore, because John shed his blood for the truth,
he surely died for Christ.
Through his birth, preaching and baptizing, he bore
witness to the coming birth, preaching and baptism of Christ, and by his own
suffering he showed that Christ also would suffer. Such was the quality and
strength of the man who accepted the end of this present life by shedding his
blood after the long imprisonment. He preached the freedom of heavenly peace,
yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men. He was locked away in the darkness of
prison, though he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be
called a bright and shining lamp by that Light itself, which is Christ.
Father Pius Parsch
The Church’s Year of Grace
- Monday, 28 February 2011 07:31
Syria should be on your radar screen if you have an interest in the life of the Church. It’s openness to
Christianity today is startling bad. Freedom of religion and human rights lack;
political oppression and basic needs are always in question. The current regime
very likely nervous given the recent wave of political take-back. John Juliet
Buck’s Vogue magazine article on the Syrian First Lady, Asma al-Assad, “A Rose in
the Desert” speaks to many issues in Syria, not least is religion. Thoughts of
St John the Baptist’s tomb hearken back to when in 2001 Pope John Paul II visited Syria
and prayed at the tomb of the Baptist.
At first thought Ms al-Assad’s deference to the importance of the Baptist is impressive but there’s something that strikes me as false given recent history of her husband’s family’s rule of Syria viz. religious freedom. Plus, her interest in Christianity in Syria is not because the gospel is true, good and beautiful; her interest in the Church is cultural. The gospel in this context has been reduced to a system of culture and ethics –exactly what it’s not. Syria is Indeed, many religions have passed through those lands and one seems fairly certain that the current regime wants religions like Christianity to leave Syria and not turn back. Historically, Christianity has been in Syria since St Paul visited the country. It is the place, as we know, where the followers of Jesus were first called “Christians.” Christians in Syria comprise 10% of the population with the largest group being the Greek Orthodox Church.
For me here’s the relevant paragraph in the article:
Back in the car, Buck was answered about
his investigation “what religion the orphans are?” “It’s not relevant,” says
Asma al-Assad. “Let me try to explain it to you. That church is a part of my
heritage because it’s a Syrian church. The Umayyad Mosque is the
third-most-important holy Muslim site, but within the mosque is the tomb of
Saint John the Baptist. We all kneel in the mosque in front of the tomb of
Saint John the Baptist. That’s how religions live together in Syria–a way that
I have never seen anywhere else in the world. We live side by side, and have
historically. All the religions and cultures that have passed through these
lands–the Armenians, Islam, Christianity, the Umayyads, the Ottomans–make up
who I am.”
- Thursday, 23 September 2010 11:01
barren one, who had not given birth; for the behold you have conceived clearly
the one who is the dawn of eh Sun Who was about illuminate the whole universe,
blighted with sightlessness. Shout in joy, O Zachary, crying in favor, truly,
the one to be born is a Prophet of the High. (Troparion, 4th tone)
Byzantine liturgical calendar, today is the feast of the Conception of Saint
John the Baptist. The Eastern Church, at least the Churches with a Greek
origin, keeps three conception feasts: Our Lord (March 25), Our Lady
(December 9) and the Baptist (September 23). The Latin Church only keeps two.
Calendar study will tell you that
only the Savior has a perfect 9-month gestation period; Our Lady is a day under
(September 8) and the Baptist, a day under (June 24). The liturgical calendar of
the Latin Church places the conception of Mary on December 8, the feast of the
Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The theology for today’s feast is rooted in the biblical
narrative of Zachary and Elizabeth, a couple who had no children and therefore
in the eyes of the world plagued by divine disfavor. All of their lives Zachary
and Elizabeth begged God to send them a son. Providence heard their prayer and in His plan and mercy for
all, ordained that the dawn of salvation would be effected by the birth of John
through the agency of the barren Elizabeth. The Church calls John the Prophet
and Forerunner of Jesus, the Savior of the world.
Other significant divinely merciful
births to barren women who are a significant part of the Divine Plan of Salvation are Isaac son of Sarah and Samson born to the wife
of Manoah (Samson’s mother is not named in Scripture).
- Thursday, 24 June 2010 09:53
The Church celebrates as a solemnity the birth of the Savior’s cousin, Saint John the Baptist. It is John who points to Jesus as the “path to salvation” and he teaches us that the encounter with the Lord requires to put aside our sinfulness and to put on purity of heart. It is as Isaiah says in the first reading which is applied to John the Baptist and it ought to be true for us: “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my rights is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God.”
At Mass today it struck me that the Lord was baptized by his cousin, John. How amazing is it the Savior was baptized a family member! The Baptist points the way to our salvation in Christ.