Solemnity of The Birthday of Saint John the Baptist
Note: Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I had been compiled for you after the Mass Readings below. Happy Reading!
Readings at Mass
Liturgical Colour: White.
These Readings are for the Vigil Mass on the evening before the feast:
First Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-10
Go and say whatever I command you and do not fear
The word of the Lord was addressed to me, saying,
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
before you came to birth I consecrated you;
I have appointed you as prophet to the nations.’
I said, ‘Ah, Lord; look, I do not know how to speak: I am a child!’
But the Lord replied,
‘Do not say, “I am a child.”
Go now to those to whom I send you and, say whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to protect you –
it is the Lord who speaks!’
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me:
‘There! I am putting my words into your mouth.
Look, today I am setting you over nations and over kingdoms,
to tear up and to knock down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.’
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 70(71):1-6,15,17
My lips will tell of your help.
In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, free me: pay heed to me and save me.
Be a rock where I can take refuge, a mighty stronghold to save me;
for you are my rock, my stronghold. Free me from the hand of the wicked.
It is you, O Lord, who are my hope, my trust, O Lord, since my youth.
On you I have leaned from my birth, from my mother’s womb you have been my help.
My lips will tell of your justice and day by day of your help.
O God, you have taught me from my youth and I proclaim your wonders still.
Second Reading: 1 Peter 1:8-12
You did not see Christ, yet you love him
You did not see Jesus Christ, yet you love him; and still without seeing him, you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described, because you believe; and you are sure of the end to which your faith looks forward, that is, the salvation of your souls.
It was this salvation that the prophets were looking and searching so hard for; their prophecies were about the grace which was to come to you. The Spirit of Christ which was in them foretold the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would come after them, and they tried to find out at what time and in what circumstances all this was to be expected. It was revealed to them that the news they brought of all the things which have now been announced to you, by those who preached to you the Good News through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, was for you and not for themselves. Even the angels long to catch a glimpse of these things.
John 1:7; Luke 1:17
He came as a witness, as a witness to speak for the light,
preparing for the Lord a people fit for him.
Gospel: Luke 1:5-17
'Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son'
In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a priest called Zechariah who belonged to the Abijah section of the priesthood, and he had a wife, Elizabeth by name, who was a descendant of Aaron. Both were worthy in the sight of God, and scrupulously observed all the commandments and observances of the Lord. But they were childless: Elizabeth was barren and they were both getting on in years.
Now it was the turn of Zechariah’s section to serve, and he was exercising his priestly office before God when it fell to him by lot, as the ritual custom was, to enter the Lord’s sanctuary and burn incense there. And at the hour of incense the whole congregation was outside, praying.
Then there appeared to him the angel of the Lord, standing on the right of the altar of incense. The sight disturbed Zechariah and he was overcome with fear. But the angel said to him, ‘Zechariah, do not be afraid, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son and you must name him John. He will be your joy and delight and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord; he must drink no wine, no strong drink. Even from his mother’s womb he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will bring back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah, he will go before him to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and the disobedient back to the wisdom that the virtuous have, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him.’
These Readings are for the day of the feast itself:
First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-6
I will make you the light of the nations
so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth
Islands, listen to me, pay attention, remotest peoples.
The Lord called me before I was born, from my mother’s womb he pronounced my name.
He made my mouth a sharp sword, and hid me in the shadow of his hand.
He made me into a sharpened arrow, and concealed me in his quiver.
He said to me, ‘You are my servant (Israel) in whom I shall be glorified’;
while I was thinking, ‘I have toiled in vain, I have exhausted myself for nothing’;
and all the while my cause was with the Lord, my reward with my God.
I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord, my God was my strength.
And now the Lord has spoken, he who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him, to gather Israel to him:
‘It is not enough for you to be my servant,
to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel;
I will make you the light of the nations
so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 138(139):1-3,13-15
I thank you for the wonder of my being.
O Lord, you search me and you know me, you know my resting and my rising,
you discern my purpose from afar.
You mark when I walk or lie down, all my ways lie open to you.
For it was you who created my being, knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you for the wonder of my being, for the wonders of all your creation.
Already you knew my soul, my body held no secret from you
when I was being fashioned in secret and moulded in the depths of the earth.
Second Reading: Acts 13:22-26
Jesus, whose coming was heralded by John
Paul said: ‘God deposed Saul and made David their king, of whom he approved in these words, “I have selected David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will carry out my whole purpose.” To keep his promise, God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Saviour, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his career he said, “I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.”
‘My brothers, sons of Abraham’s race, and all you who fear God, this message of salvation is meant for you.’
cf. Luke 1:76
As for you, little child, you shall be called a prophet of God, the Most High.
You shall go ahead of the Lord to prepare his ways before him.
Gospel: Luke 1:57-66,80
'His name is John'
The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy.
Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. ‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘But no one in your family has that name’, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.
Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Publisher for allowing us to publish the Mass Readings to be used as reference for Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us around the World.
Homilies, Angelus / Regina Caeli
No record for Years 1997 – 2000.
"From my mother’s womb you called me" (Responsorial Psalm)
Today we can make our own these words of the Psalmist. God knew and loved us even before our eyes could contemplate the marvels of creation. At birth all men and women receive a human name. But even before that, each one has a divine name: the name by which God the Father knows and loves them from eternity and for eternity. This is true for everyone, with the exception of none. No one is nameless in God’s sight! All have equal value in his eyes: all are different, yet all are equal, and all are called to be sons and daughters in the Son.
"His name is John" (Luke 1:63). Before his astonished kinsmen, Zechariah confirms that this is the name of his son, writing it on a tablet. God himself, through his angel, had given that name, which in Hebrew means "God is benevolent". God is benevolent to human beings: he wants them to live; he wants them to be saved. God is benevolent to his people: he wants to make of them a blessing for all the nations of the earth. God is benevolent to humanity: he guides its pilgrim way towards the land where peace and justice reign. All this is contained in that name: John!
People of God, you who believe, hope and love in the land of Ukraine, joyfully savour once more the gift of the Gospel which you received over a thousand years ago! Look today to John the Baptist, an enduring model of fidelity to God and his Law. John prepared the way for Christ by the testimony of his word and his life. Imitate him with docile and trusting generosity.
Saint John the Baptist is above all a model of faith. Following the example of the great Prophet Elijah, in order to listen more attentively to the word of the one Lord of his life, he leaves everything and withdraws to the desert, from which he would issue the resounding call to prepare the way of the Lord (cf. Matthew 3:3 and parallels).
He is a model of humility, because to those who saw in him not only a Prophet, but the Messiah himself, he replied: "Who do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie" (Acts 13:25).
He is a model of uprightness and courage in defending the truth, for which he was prepared to pay in his person, even to the point of imprisonment and death.
Land of Ukraine, drenched with the blood of martyrs, thank you for the example of fidelity to the Gospel which you have given to Christians the world over! So many of your sons and daughters walked in complete fidelity to Christ; many of them remained constant even to the supreme sacrifice. May their witness serve as an example and a stimulus for the Christians of the third millennium.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Homily, 24 June 2001)
Mary, the first and the most perfect disciple of her Son, is a figure and a model of the Church which welcomes the word of the Lord in faith. Her protection has accompanied every step of the Christian community in Ukraine ever since the Baptism of Rus’ in 988.
Bathed by the great river of faith, Ukraine thus became a Christian land and, at the same time, a Marian country. This can be seen in the numerous shrines which express the deep love of the faithful for their heavenly Mother. For the faithful of the Latin Rite I am thinking, in particular, of the Shrines of Berdichiv and of Letichiv. Among the faithful of the Byzantine Rite the Shrines of Zarvanytsia and of Hoshiv are greatly venerated. In mind and heart I wish to visit these places of worship and prostrate myself devoutly at the feet of the Virgin to invoke upon everyone her maternal protection.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 24 June 2001)
No record for Years 2002 – 2004.
No record for Years 2005 – 2006.
All the Gospels introduce the narrative of Jesus' public life with the account of his baptism by John in the River Jordan. St Luke frames the Baptist's entrance on the scene in a solemn historical setting.
My book Jesus of Nazareth also begins with the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, an event which had enormous echoes in his day. People flocked from Jerusalem and every part of Judea to listen to John the Baptist and have themselves baptized in the river by him, confessing their sins (cf. Mark 1: 5).
The baptizing prophet became so famous that many asked themselves whether he was the Messiah. The Evangelist, however, specifically denied this: "I am not the Christ" (John 1: 20).
Nevertheless, he was the first "witness" of Jesus, having received instructions from Heaven: "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit" (John 1: 33).
This happened precisely when Jesus, after receiving baptism, emerged from the water: John saw the Spirit descending upon him in the form of a dove. It was then that he "knew" the full reality of Jesus of Nazareth and began to make him "known to Israel" (John 1: 31), pointing him out as the Son of God and Redeemer of man: "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1: 29).
As an authentic prophet, John bore witness to the truth without compromise. He denounced transgressions of God's commandments, even when it was the powerful who were responsible for them. Thus, when he accused Herod and Herodias of adultery, he paid with his life, sealing with martyrdom his service to Christ who is Truth in person.
Let us invoke his intercession, together with that of Mary Most Holy, so that also in our day the Church will remain ever faithful to Christ and courageously witness to his truth and his love for all.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 24 June 2007)
No record for Years 2008-2009.
Dear Sisters, the community you form is a place in which it is possible to dwell in the Lord; for you it is the new Jerusalem to which the tribes of the Lord go up to praise the name of the Lord (cf. Psalm 122:4). Be grateful to divine Providence for the sublime and free gift of the monastic vocation, to which the Lord has called you through no merit of your own. With Isaiah you can say: "The Lord formed me from the womb to be his servant" (cf. Isaiah 49:5). Even before you were born, the Lord had reserved your heart for himself, to fill it with his love. Through the sacrament of Baptism you received divine Grace within you and, immersed in his death and Resurrection, you were consecrated to Jesus, in order to belong exclusively to him. The form of contemplative life, which you received from the hands of St Dominic in the manner of the cloister, place you as living, vital members in the heart of the Mystical Body of the Lord, which is the Church; and just as the heart makes the blood circulate and keeps the whole body alive, so your hidden existence with Christ, where work and prayer alternate, helps to sustain the Church, the instrument of salvation for every person whom the Lord has redeemed with his Blood.
You draw from this inexhaustible source with prayer, presenting to the Most High the spiritual and material needs of so many brothers and sisters in difficulty, the confused lives of those who have drifted away from the Lord. How can we not be moved by compassion for those who seem to be wandering purposelessly? How could we fail to hope that they may encounter Jesus in their life, the only encounter that gives meaning to existence? The holy wish that the Kingdom of God may be established in every human heart is identified with prayer itself, as St Augustine teaches us: "Ipsum desiderium tuum, oratio tua est; et si continuum desiderium, continua oratio": your desire is your prayer; and if it is an on-going desire, it is also continuous prayer (cf. Ep. 130. 18-20); therefore, as a fire that burns and is never extinguished, the heart is made alert, it never ceases to desire God and always raises a hymn of praise to him.
Pope Benedict XVI (Homily, 22 June 2010)
Today, 24 June, we are celebrating the Solemnity of St John the Baptist. He is the only saint — with the exception of the Virgin Mary — whose birth the liturgy celebrates and it does so because it is closely connected with the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. In fact, from the time when he was in his mother’s womb John was the precursor of Jesus: the Angel announced to Mary his miraculous conception as a sign that “nothing is impossible to God” (Luke 1:37), six months before the great miracle that brings us salvation, God’s union with man brought about by the Holy Spirit. The four Gospels place great emphasis on the figure of John the Baptist, the prophet who concludes the Old Testament and inaugurates the New, by identifying Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, the Anointed One of the Lord. In fact, Jesus himself was to speak of John in these terms: “This is he of whom it is written ‘Behold I send my messenger before your face, / who shall prepare your way before you. Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he!” (Matthew 11:10-11)…
Dear friends, the Virgin Mary helped her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth when she was expecting John to bring her pregnancy to completion. May she help all people to follow Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, whom the Baptist proclaimed with deep humility and prophetic fervour.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 24 June 2012)
No record of Homilies & Angelus for Years 2013 – 2017.
Today’s liturgy invites us to celebrate the feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. His birth is the event which illuminates the life of his parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, and engages his kindred and neighbours in joy and wonder. These elderly parents had dreamed and even prepared for that day, but they were no longer expecting it: they felt excluded, humiliated, disappointed: they were childless. Faced with the announcement of the birth of a son (cf. Luke 1:13), Zechariah was incredulous because the laws of nature did not allow it. They were old, they were elderly. Consequently, the Lord rendered him mute for the entire gestation period (cf. v. 20). It was a sign. But God does not rely on our reasoning and our limited human abilities. We must learn to trust and be silent before the mystery of God and to contemplate, with humility and silence, his work which is revealed in history and often exceeds our imagination.
And now that the event comes to pass, now that Elizabeth and Zechariah experience that “with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37), their joy is great. Today’s Gospel reading (Luke 1:57-66, 80) announces the birth and then pauses on the moment of the bestowal of the child’s name. Elizabeth chooses a name that is foreign to her family’s tradition and says: “he shall be called John” (v. 60): a freely given and, by then, an unexpected gift, because John means “God has given grace”. And this child will be a herald, a witness to God’s grace for the poor who, with humble faith, await his salvation. Zechariah unexpectedly confirms the choice of that name by writing it on a tablet — because he was mute —, and “immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God” (v. 64).
The entire event of the birth of John the Baptist is surrounded by a joyous sense of wonder, surprise and gratitude. Wonder, surprise, gratitude. The people are filled with a holy fear of God “and all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea” (v. 65). Brothers and sisters, the faithful people sense that something great has occurred, even though it is humble and hidden, and they ask themselves: “What then will this child be?” (v. 66). The faithful People of God are able to live the faith with joy, with a sense of wonder, of surprise and of gratitude. We see those people who spoke well about this marvellous thing, this miracle of John’s birth, and they did so with joy, they were happy, with a sense of wonder, surprise and gratitude. And looking at this, let us ask ourselves: how is my faith? Is it a joyous faith or is it a faith that is always the same, a ‘dull’ faith? Do I feel a sense of wonder when I see the Lord’s works, when I hear about evangelization or the life of a saint, or when I see many good people do I feel the grace within, or does nothing move in my heart? Am I able to feel the Spirit’s consolation or am I closed off? Let us ask ourselves, each of us, in an examination of conscience: How is my faith? Is it joyful? Is it open to God’s surprises? Because God is the God of surprises. Have I ‘tasted’ in my soul that sense of wonder which the presence of God brings, that sense of gratitude? Let us think about these words which are the moods of faith: joy, a sense of wonder, a sense of surprise and gratitude.
May the Blessed Virgin help us to understand that in each human person there is the imprint of God, the source of life. May she, Mother of God and our Mother, make us more aware that in having children parents are acting as God’s assistants. It is a mission that is truly sublime, which makes each family a shrine of life, and it — each child’s birth — awakens joy, wonder and gratitude.
Pope Francis I (Angelus, 24 June 2018)
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Compiled on 24 June 2018
Last updated: 23 June 2019