(Sermo 293,1-3 PL38, 1327-1328 By: St. Augustine, Doctor, Bishop of Hippo)
Before I formed thee in the bowels of thy mother, I knew thee: and before thou came forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee, and made thee a prophet unto the nations. And the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth: and the Lord said to me: Behold I have given my words in thy mouth: Lo, I have set thee this day over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root up, and pull down, and to waste, and to destroy, and to build, and to plant. (Jer1:5,9-10)
The Church observes the birth of John as a Hallowed event. We have no such commemoration for any other fathers; but it is significant that we celebrate the birthdays of John and of Jesus. This day cannot be passed by. And even if my explanation does not match the dignity of the feast, you may still meditate on it with great depth and profit.
John was born of a woman to old for childbirth; Christ was born of a youthful virgin, The news of John’s birth was met with incredulity, and his father was struck dumb. Christ’s birth was believed, and he was conceived through faith.
Such is the topic, as I have presented it, for our inquiry and discussion.
But as I said before, If I lack either the time or ability to study the implications of so profound a mystery, he who speaks within you even when I am not here will teach you better; it is he whom you contemplate with devotion, whom you have welcomed into your hearts, whose temple you have become.
John then, appears as the boundary between two testaments, the old and the new. That he is a sort of boundary the Lord himself bears witness, when he speaks of the law and the prophets up until John the Baptist. Thus he represents times past and is the herald of the new era to come. As a representative of the past, he is born of Aged parents; as a herald of the new era, he is declared a prophet while still in his mother’s womb. For when yet unborn, he lept in his mother’s womb, at the arrival of the Blessed Mary. In that womb he had already been designated a prophet , even before he was born; it was revealed that he would be the precursor, before they ever saw one another. These are divine happenings , going beyond the limits of human frailty. Eventually he is born, he receives his name, his father’s tongue is loosened. See how these events reflect reality.
Zechariah is silent and loses his voice until John, the precursor of the Lord, is born and restores his VOICE.
The silence of Zechariah is nothing but the age of prophesy lying hidden, obscured, as it were, and concealed before the preaching of Christ.
At John’s arrival Zechariah’s is released, as it were, and it becomes clear at the coming of the one who was foretold. The release of Zechariah’s voice at the birth of John is a parallel to the rending of the veil at Christ’s crucifixion.
“And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top even to the bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent.” (Mt27:51)
The tongue is loosened because a VOICE is born. For when John was preaching the Lord’s coming was asked? “Who are you?” And he replied: ““I am the VOICE of one crying in the wilderness”.
“The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God.” (Is40:3)
”. The VOICE is John, but the Lord in the beginning was the Word. John was the VOICE that lasted only for a time; Christ, the Word in the beginning, is eternal.
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways: To give knowledge of salvation to his people, unto the remission of their sins (Lk1:76-77). “For I say to you: Among those that are born of women, there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist. But he that is the lesser in the kingdom of God, is greater than he.” (Lk7:28)(Mt11:11).
Daily Indulgence: An indulgence partial (3yrs),( 5yrs, if the canticle is recited on the feast of the visitation of the B.V.M., or on ANY Saturday of the year. A Plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this canticle. (S.C. Ind., Sep 20, 1879; S.P. Ap., Feb 18, 1940). RACCOLTA Pg.220.
#320. Magnificat (Lk1:46-55)
My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
Because He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name;
And His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of His mercy
Even as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.