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Thought of the day
Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thursday of the Second week of Advent

"All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John"

 
Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church 
Anti-Donatist treatise «Against the letters of Petilianus » Book 2, §87
"All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John"

The law and the prophets up to the time of John the Baptist had sacraments that  foreshadowed things to come; but the sacraments of our time bear testimony that what the former sacraments foretold was going to come has come already. Therefore John was a foreteller of Christ who was nearer to him in time than all who went before him.

For all the righteous and prophets of former times desired to see the fulfilment of what, through the revelation of the Spirit, they foresaw would come to pass. For which reason also the Lord himself says: "Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them," (Mt 13,17). And therefore it was said of John that he was “more than a prophet”, and that “among all born of women there was none greater than he” (Mt 11,9-11).

Indeed, it was only granted to the righteous who were before him to foretell the coming of Christ, but to John it was given both to foretell him in his absence and to see him in his presence, so that to him was made manifest what the others had desired. And so the sacrament of his baptism was still connected with the foretelling of Christ's coming, although as of something very soon to be fulfilled, seeing that up to his time there were still prophecies of the first coming of the Lord. But now we have announcements of his coming and no longer just predictions.
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