The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist - Solemnity
"... he came as a witness, to bear witness to the light" (Jn 1, 6-7)
The Syrian Liturgy
Hymn attributed to Saint Ephrem (c. 306-373), deacon in Syria, Doctor of the Church
"There was a man sent by God ; his name was John... he came as a witness, to bear witness to the light" (Jn 1, 6-7)
It is you, John, we recognise to be a new Moses, since you have seen God, no longer in symbol but clearly. It is you we see to be a new Joshua: you did not cross the Jordan from one side to the other but, with the water of the Jordan, you enabled people to cross from one world to another... It is you, the new Samuel, who did not anoint David but baptized David's Son. It is you, the new David, who were not persecuted by the evil king, Saul, but who were killed by Herod. It is you, the new Elijah, who were fed in the desert, not with bread by a raven but with locusts and wild honey by God. It is you, the new Isaiah who said, not: “Behold, a virgin will conceive and bear a son” (7,14), but who declared before all: “Behold, she has brought forth the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1,29)...
Blessed are you, John, chosen of God; you who put your hand on your Lord, who took into your hands the flame whose brightness makes angels tremble! Morning star (cf Nb 24,17), you have shown the true morning to the world; joyful dawn (cf. Ps 29,6), you have made known the day of glory; shining lamp (Jn 5,35), you have pointed to the Light without compare. Messenger of the Father's great reconciliation (Is 9,5 LXX), the archangel Gabriel was sent before you to announce you to Zachary, like a fruit in advance of its expectation... The greatest of the sons of men (Mt 11,11), you precede Emmanuel, he who is greater than all creatures; firstborn of Elizabeth, you precede the Firstborn of all creation (Col 1,15).
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