Sunday, June 24, 2018
Solemnity of St. John the Baptist
Today, in Mercy, we celebrate John the Baptist of whom Jesus said, “no man greater has been born of women”.
Today’s Gospel talks about the surprise conception of John, and all the drama surrounding his birth. Several other Gospel passages tell us about John’s preaching, his challenges to Herod, and his eventual martyrdom at the request of Salome. These are worth a read today, if you have a little time, just to be reacquainted with this extraordinary man.
John the Baptist was the living bridge between the Old Law and the New. He was the doorway from a religion of requirements to a religion of love. That bridge and doorway were built on a baptism of repentance in order to clear one’s heart to receive the Good News.
The magnificent Greek word for repentance is “metanoia” which indicates a turning of one’s mind and heart after realizing a new truth. Metanoia is to have awareness dawn on us, and to feel sorrow for our former blindness or hardness of heart.
May our prayer today help us to receive the grace of metanoia wherever our spirits are hardened or closed – or just plain deadened by routine. May we hear the Baptist calling to us, “Prepare your hearts – EVERYDAY- for the Lord. There is always room for you to be surprised by God.”
Music: Ut Queant Laxis ( English translation below)
“Utqueant laxis” or “Hymnus in Ioannem” is a Latin hymn in honor of John the Baptist written in Horatian Sapphics and traditionally attributed to Paulus Diaconus, the eighth-century Lombard historian. It is famous for its part in the history of musical notation, in particular solmization (do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do). The hymn is sung to a Gregorian chant, and introduces the original do-re-mi music.
1. O for your spirit, holy John, to chasten
Lips sin-polluted, fettered tongues to loosen;
So by your children might your deeds of wonder
Meetly be chanted.
2. Lo! a swift herald, from the skies descending,
Bears to your father promise of your greatness;
How he shall name you, what your future story,
3. Scarcely believing message so transcendent,
Him for a season power of speech forsaketh,
Till, at your wondrous birth, again returneth,
Voice to the voiceless.
4. You, in your mother’s womb all darkly cradled,
Knew your great Monarch, biding in His chamber,
Whence the two parents, through their offspring’s merits,
5. Praise to the Father, to the Son begotten,
And to the Spirit, equal power possessing,
One God whose glory, through the lapse of ages,
Ever resounding. Amen.