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Thought of the day
Friday, December 23, 2016

Readings for 23 December

Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church 6th Sermon for the Nativity of John the Baptist; no. 293, 1

Readings for 23 December

Commentary of the day 

Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church 6th Sermon for the Nativity of John the Baptist; no. 293, 1

“They all said: What, then, will this child be?"

What will the glory of the judge be, if the glory of the hero is so great? What will he be who comes as the Way (Jn 14:6), if such is the one who prepares the way? ( . . . ) We are celebrating John's birthday, we also celebrate the birthday of Christ . . .  John was born of a woman who was too old for childbearing; Christ was born of a young virgin. John's birth occurred in spite of the age of his parents; Christ's birth occurred without the union of sexes. One was predicted by an angel; the other was conceived by the voice of the angel...The news of John's birth was met with incredulity and his father was struck dumb; Mary believes in Christ's birth and conceives him through faith... 

John, then, appears as the boundary between two covenants, the old and the new. That he is a sort of boundary the Lord himself bears witness when he speaks of the law and prophets lasting until John the Baptist: “The law and the prophets lasted until John” (Lk 16:16). Thus John represents the time that is past and, at the same time, he is the herald of the new era to come. Because he represents the past, he is born of aged parents; as herald of the new era, he is declared to be the prophet while still in his mother's womb (Lk 1:41) . . .  It was revealed that he was to be Christ's precursor even before they had ever seen one another. These are divine happenings surpassing the limits of our human frailty. In due course he is born, he receives his name, his father's tongue is loosened. One must read these events in the light of their deeper symbolic meaning.

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