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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Today the Church celebrates : The Nativity of St. John the Baptist - Solemnity , the birth of the last prophet in the Catholic faith.
Saint Bede the Venerable (c.673-735), monk, Doctor of the Church
Homélie II, 20 ; CCL 122, 328-330 (copyright Friends of Henry Ashworth)
"John was not the light but came to testify to the light" (Jn 1,8)
The fact that John's birth is commemorated when the days begin to shorten and the Savior's when they begin to lengthen indicates a symbolic meaning. And indeed, John himself disclosed the hidden significance of this difference between them. The crowds were taking him to be the Christ on account of his outstanding virtues, whereas some were thinking of the Lord, not as Christ, but as a prophet because of the weakness of his bodily state. So John said: «He must increase, I must decrease» (Jn 3,30). Our Lord certainly increased since, while they were looking on him as a prophet, he made known to all believers in the whole world that he was the Christ. John decreased and grew less in that he who was taken for the Christ came to be seen, not as the Christ, but as the one who proclaimed the Christ.
And so it is natural that daylight begins to decrease after John's birth because his reputation for divinity is going to vanish and his baptism will soon disappear. It is equally natural that the brightness of the shortest days begins to increase following our Lord's birth: for, in truth, he came to earth to reveal the light of his knowledge to all the pagans, of which formerly only the Jews had possessed a part, and to shed abroad the fire of his love through all the earth.

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