The Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist and Lauds in Liturgy of the Hours


When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Those dwelling near her and her clan folk heard how the Personal Name had shown his great mercy to her… When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to mark him  as Zechariah, his father. His mother replied, “No! His mark is John.” They answered, “There is no one among your relatives who has this mark.”

The Hebrew word for “Name,” “שם,” also means, “A mark,” “A nature,” or “A characteristic.” “Elizabeth’s” name means “My God of the Oath.” “Elizabeth” is also the name of the wife of the first Cohen/ priest, wife or Aaron, brother of Moses. Elizabeth, is also the wife of Zechariah the last charitable Cohen/priest, and she is sterile. The oath of God seems sterile. The Romans are in charge and the secular and religious leadership cowtows, bumps their heads to the ground, in subservience to these Romans. It is much the same today, with religious leaders bowing before the market based/business leadership, the rich who donate most of the church money. The oath of God is sterile, and all hope is gone.

“Zechariah,” in Hebrew means, “Remembrance,” as remembrance or nostalgia of the past. The mark of “Zechariah,” which the family members want to put on John the Baptist is a mark of remembrance of the glories of the past, because there is no hope for the future. “Let us hope the second coming gets here soon, because we cannot take much more of this.” That was the attitude of the people in the room, and the attitude of most people today.

First, Elizabeth, then Zechariah, will have none of this. John the Baptist’s mark is different. “There is no one among your relatives, literally, “Those who attach themselves to us,” by that mark. Everyone else goes with nostalgia for the good old days. Zechariah writes, “His mark is John, or literally from Hebrew, “God,’ as the Personal Name, is gracious.” That is, “Not was,’ but ‘is.” Elizabeth and Zechariah crash the mold. Their faith is not about the past, but the present and future.

That is why the Canticle of Zechariah or Benedictus is such a necessary part of our Liturgy-of-the-Hours, Lauds:

“Blessed be the Personal Name, the Almighty Judge of those who struggle with God.

He has visited and redeemed his people.

He raised up pride for our salvation/Joshua/Jesus, within the house of David his servant, as:

He promised through the mouth of his Dedicated Navy of old, as:

He promised salvation (Joshua/ Jesus) from our enemies, from the hand of all who grind their teeth at us.

He shows mercy to our fathers mindful of his dedicated Brit/Social Contract and the oath (Elizabeth is not sterile anymore) he swore to Abraham/E Pluribus Unum, our father.

He did this to rescue us from the hand of enemies,

So that without fear:

we will give public service/liturgy to him in religious dedication and

we will give charity to each other before him all our days.

You, child, will have the mark of Navy of the Most High;

You will go before the face of the Personal Name to prepare his track through the desert to the Promised Land, to give his people knowledge of salvation/Joshua/Jesus.

You will bring forgiveness of their failures, because of the tender mercy of our Almighty Judge, through which the daybreak from on high will visit us to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

 

The song has a clear structure when properly translated. God did… so we will so so you, the reader:

You will have the mark of Navy/Prophet of the Most High God.

You will go before the face of the Personal Name to prepare his ways.

You will give the people the knowledge, not of morality, judgment and condemnation, but of salvation, Jesus, hope in the perplexing world so often devoid of hope.

You will preach forgiveness of failures, not reminders of them.

You are the mark of the mercy of God.

You, the reader, will represent the dawn of a new day, shining on those who sit in the darkness and despair of poverty and destitution, sitting at death’s door, guiding them in the way, not of quarreling and strife, but of completeness, tranquility and peace.

“Does the first reading and the Gospel apply to us, or is it nostalgia about a bygone past, two millennium bygone? Does God call us to salvation, for others, and ourselves or did he call someone else? God wants to know. The events in our Gospel happened on the eighth day; think one week of creation, plus one day, a new day. The Hebrew word for “To circumcise,” is “למול” or “Mill.” The Hebrew word for, “To fill” is “.למלא” They are almost exactly the same word. On the eighth day, the new day, God comes to fill us anew, with reason for hope. Let us be worthy of that hope.

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