O Lord Thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Voice of the Word, Lamp of the Light, and Best Man of the Bridegroom

Some antiphons from Byzantine Rite Vespers for the Feast of the Nativity of the Holy Forerunner, Prophet and Baptist, John:
When John was born, the silence of Zecharias was broken. For when the Voice appeared, it was not proper that his father remain silent. Just as disbelief bound the tongue of the father, so now the appearance of John frees him. Having revealed himself, he preaches good tidings to all. The Forerunner of Light and the Voice of the Word is born, and he prays for the salvation of our souls.

Today the Voice of the Word frees his father's voice which was lost through disbelief, and he reveals the blessed posterity of the Church by loosing his mother's bond of barrenness. The Lamp preceding the Light appears; the star proclaims the coming of the Sun of Justice Who is the restoration of all and the salvation of our souls.
St. John the Baptist has a very profound participation in Christ's three-fold munus of Priest, Prophet and King. St. John is the son of a temple priest, St. Zacharias, and thus is himself a priest. St. John is the greatest and last prophet (not the pseudo-prophet Muhammad as very misguided people claim). St. John is the Forerunner of Christ the King, heralding His coming and commanding that all people prepare a path for their Divine King. As the Holy Forerunner, St. John is the Best Man of Christ the Bridegroom, described by Christ as the "greatest born of woman". It is noteworthy how the Byzantine tradition gives St. John the title of "Voice of the Word" in his capacity as Forerunner of the Lord and that it was only when the Voice appeared that St. Zacharias' tongue was loosed and he was able to speak again.