Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Health Vailankanni The Place of Our Lady's Apparitions

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

December 23
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"What will this child be?"

Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church 
Sermon for the nativity of John the Baptist ; PLS 2, 497
"What will this child be?"

What a wonder! The messenger is born previous to him who brought him into the world. John is indeed the voice and Jesus the Word (Mt 3,3; Jn 1,1)… The Word is born first of all in the mind and then prompts the voice that speaks it; the voice is expressed by the lips and makes the word known to those who listen. Thus Christ remained in his Father (by whom John was created in the same way as everything else) but John came forth from his mother and made everyone able to know Christ. The latter was Word from the beginning, before the world came to be; John was the voice who, at the end, preceded the coming of the Word. The word comes into being out of thought; the voice comes out of silence.

Thus Mary believes as she gives birth to Christ whereas, before he begot John, Zachariah was struck dumb. The former comes forth from maidenhood in its bud, the latter is born from an old and feeble woman. The Word remains within the heart of the one who ponders; the voice dies in the ear of the one who listens. Perhaps this is even the meaning of John’s saying: “He must increase but I must decrease” (Jn 3,30). For the prophecies of the Law and the prophets that were made known before Christ, as a voice is known before the Word, continued up to John in whom the last of these prefigurations came to an end. Afterwards, the grace of the Gospel and proclamation of that Kingdom of heaven which knows no end bore fruit and spread throughout the whole earth.
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