He had raised up for us a Saviour in the house of David His servant, as promised on the lips of holy men, of those who were His prophets from of old…
As for you little child, you shall be the prophet of the most High God, you will go before the face of the Lord and make straight His paths…” (and then I forget the words unless I look them up).
This prayer is said every morning in Divine Office and is the blessing given by Zachariah the father of John the Baptist on the day John’s naming and circumcision, the 8th day after his nativity. Zachariah had been high priest nine months earlier at Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, but he had been struck dumb by the Angel of the Lord because of his lack of faith. He had not been able to bless Israel when he emerged from the Holy of Holies, but eight days after his promised son arrives he proclaims a beautiful blessing. He does this over his son and in the presence of the New Ark of the Lord who like the first Ark is spending three months in the Hill Country of Judea with the Presence of God in her, a three month embryo.
Mary is carrying the Bridegroom and John will preach firmly on the sanctity of marriage even before his cousin Jesus raises it to a Sacrament.
We celebrated the feasts of St Thomas More and St. John Fisher who were martyred for Christ, for standing firm on the sanctity of marriage. Now we celebrate the nativity of St. John the Baptist. He is the last prophet of the Old Covenant, carrying the spirit of Elijah to announce the coming of the Messiah. His preaching against the illicit marriage of Herod Antipas will get him martyred. He will be beheaded and St. Thomas will be beheaded 1500 years later. He is a priest standing for the High Priest Jesus, and St. John Fisher was the only bishop to be martyred for the truth at that time.
At a time when so many Christians have betrayed marriage, these three saints stand as a sign to guide us. (I read somewhere a long time ago that the reason St. John Fisher was the only bishop to be martyred by Henry VIII was because all the other bishops caved on account of most of them having mistresses. Don’t know if this is true.)
Our Parish Priest preached a couragous pro-life serman today. There are good, brave priests out there, and we are blessed to have one of them.