Sun, 22 December 2019
(Mal.3:1-4,23-24; Ps.25:4-5,8-10,14,Lk.21:28; Lk.1:57-66)
“His name is John.”
Yes, “the hand of the Lord [was] upon him,” whose name signifies the grace of God, who comes at the end of the age to turn men’s hearts back to God, who prepares the way we must walk to find the instruction and purgation of the Lord.
We must be purified by “the refiner’s fire.” We must be purged of all dross “like gold or like silver that [we] may offer due sacrifice to the Lord,” that we might be called children of the One God. The Day is coming; the Lord is returning to the temple, and we must be prepared to welcome Him – and so John is born, sent in the spirit of Elijah the prophet to cry out the way in the wilderness of this world. By the Spirit of the Lord, he “shows sinners the way; he guides the humble to justice,” leading them to the Son who stands ready in Truth to teach and to save. Well do the people do to wonder at the birth of this holy child, for well will they do to follow his exhortation, and come to praise of the living God.
This John leads us to something new, as even the originality of his name among his relatives signifies; he assists us in making the turn, the conversion to the New Covenant in the blood of Christ. From the Old and as a prophet of old, he leads us to the dawn of new light in this world. Jesus he comes to proclaim. Without this grace of God to be washed in the river of our sins, how could we stand on “the great and terrible day” of the Lord’s coming? How could we bear His light, His fire?
“All the paths of the Lord are kindness and constancy toward those who keep His covenant and His decrees.” Praise God we have the instruction of the Lord with us now to guide us to life everlasting; and thank God we have been made ready by “the messenger of the covenant” to stand in the light of that wisdom. The Lord teaches us now, brothers and sisters; the Lord is with us to instruct us in His way and, “like the fuller’s lye,” to make us white. Let us not make the grace of forgiveness John has wrought by the hand of God among us come to naught – let us listen closely now to the Word of God to which his voice has led us.
P.S. Re the Bible, the Word of God – a quote by St. Hippolytus from today’s Office: “Sacred Scripture is God’s gift to us and it should be understood in the way He intends: we should not do violence to it by interpreting it according to our own preconceived ideas.”
O LORD, you brought John to birth
to prepare the way of your only Son –
let us walk that path to you.
YHWH, your hand was upon John for our good, to prepare the way for your Son, that we might be prepared to receive the glory of His presence among us. This day may our hearts be ready for His coming.
Sinners you show the way, O LORD; you mark out the path we all should tread if we wish to be cleansed of all evil and turn our hearts to you. You are our Father, and all we should desire is to love you – O LORD, lead us in the way to you.
Your Son is the way, dear LORD. It is by Him on His terrible Day that we are purged of all dross in the fire of the Holy Spirit and so made pure to stand before you. O holy God, let us be refined like silver or gold that we might shine so brightly in your presence. By your grace only is this accomplished; let all be made new by your hands.