Theme of the Feast: John Prepares the Ways of the Lord. The first reading tells us of a faithful Servant of God, who will be the light of all peoples. There were those who thought that the Baptist was such a light, but John the evangelist clarifies this immediately: “He was not the light, but came to testify to the light”; “the true light, which enlightens everyone” (Jn 1:8-9) is Christ. Only Luke describes the birth of the Baptist, while the other evangelists mention him only at the beginning of the public life of Jesus. Luke does so in order to show that with John a new era has dawned: the time of the promises has ended, there is to be no more waiting, the time has begun for such promises to be fulfilled. God has kept his word.
Entrance Antiphon Jn 1:6-7; Lk 1:17
A man was sent from God, whose name was John. He came to testify to the light, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.
O God, who raised up Saint John the Baptist to make ready a nation fit for Christ the Lord, give your people, we pray, the grace of spiritual joys and direct the hearts of all the faithful into the way of salvation and peace. Through our Lord
“I will give you as a light to the nations.”
A reading from the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 49:1-6)
Listen to me, O islands, and pay attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I said, “I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God.” And now the Lord says, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honoured in the eyes of the Lord, and my God has become my strength — he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 139:1-3. 13- 14.15 (R. 14a)
R/. I thank you who wonderfully made me.
O Lord, you search me and you know me.
You yourself know my resting and my rising;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You mark when I walk or lie down;
you know all my ways through and through. R.
For it was you who formed my inmost being,
knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you who wonderfully made me;
how wonderful are your works,
which my soul knows well! R.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being fashioned in secret
and moulded in the depths of the earth. R.
John had preached before Christ’s coming,
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 13:22-26)
In those days: Paul said, “God raised up David to be our fathers’ king; of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David, the son of Jesse, a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ Of this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Saviour, Jesus, as he promised. Before his coming John had preached a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’ “Brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you that fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation.”
The word of the Lord.
Alleluia. You, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways. Alleluia.
“His name is John.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (Luke 1:57-66.80)
Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. And her neighbours and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your kindred is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all marvelled. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbours. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him. And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.
The Gospel of the Lord.
The life and mission of St John the Baptist comes alive in Psalm 115 where we read, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness” (v 1). John was born for a specific purpose designed by God, and he was resolutely committed to that mission and bore witness to Christ. John grew up in the spirit of the Lord, answered in complete faithfulness to the call of God, living solely to point Christ to others, invited people to amend their ways to suit the ways of the Lord and prepared them for a baptism by the Holy Spirit which Jesus the Messiah would confer on them.
Despite the fact that John had an opportunity to pretend to be the Messiah, he declared that he wasn’t the one. John was humble, brave, focused and determined to speak the truth even if that meant the loss of his own life. The voice that pointed to the word invites each of us to allow Christ to increase in us. Like John we too shall become credible and faithful pointers to Jesus in our lives.