Republished: John the Baptist’s birthday, because he was sanctified in his mother’s womb

visitation from peregabrielcom.png

[The painting above is from peregabriel.com. A very cool site!]

Remember that the easiest way to pray the rosary is to recognize that Jesus and Mary and Joseph are with you right here, right now, as they are in heaven, not as they were a couple thousand years ago. Sure, take a look at what they did for you and all back in the day, but, in our Lord’s grace, with a spirit of humble thanksgiving for them, right here, right now.

Remember, it’s not about your imagination that you are in their presence, which Pelagian effort of imagination is a lot of hooey. Rather, your act of the will in our Lord’s grace to humbly thank Him and our Blessed Mother is what the prayer of the rosary is all about.

Clever meditations, whether in “rant” style such as in this article, or, later, please God, in a style presented in a more genteel manner, don’t get anyone anywhere. The only way what is presented on this blog is going to help anyone is if that someone, by the grace of our Lord, uses these words as an occasion to humbly thank the Holy Family right now for what went on back in the day.

* * *

For this preliminary “rant meditation” on the second joyful mystery of the most holy rosary, let’s leave off Luke 1,5-25 (the scene with Zachariah) and Luke 1,46-80 (saving those for future meditations!), concentrating on Luke 1,39-45, for which a summary interlinear comment will be provided, based on my own in-your-face translation from the Greek, with an eye to the Vulgate. I’m not into the esoteric practice of translating one word for one word, as if, magically, all languages had absolutely perfect one word for one word equivalents. Such pretension cannot ever provide a great translation, unless you’re in a position to create the language, as was the case with the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, which made up a goodly number of words, but paraphrased the rest. Instead, trying to avoid coining any words, I’ll provide a translation with more in-your-face accuracy than any one word for one word translation could ever present. Note that the “perfect” verbs, with their continuing perfection, are not easy to translate! …

Luke 1,39 But Mary, having arisen in these days, went out into the hill country with enthusiastic haste, into a city of Judah, 40 and she entered into the house of Zachariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it came about that as Elizabeth listened to the greeting of Mary, the unborn child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a great exclamation and said: “You are perfectly continuing to remain perfectly blessed among women, and the Fruit of your womb is perfectly continuing to remain perfectly blessed. 43 And how has this come about to me that the Mother of my Lord might come to me? 44 For behold! As the voice of your greeting came about in my ears, the unborn child leaped in exaltation in my womb. 45 And blessed is she who has believed that the things spoken to her by the Lord, perfectly continuing to remain with their perfective force, will have fulfillment.”

O.K. Let’s try some interlinear commentary:

Luke 1,39 But Mary, having arisen in these days [“these days,” not “those days.” This speaks to what is happening to Mary interiorly. She’s immediately thinking of Hanna’s words, and singing the “Magnificat”. But, more on that in a, please God, future meditation.], went out into the hill country [which is also way up from Nazareth] with enthusiastic haste, into a city of Judah [Just a couple of miles down from Jerusalem: “enthusiastic haste”… I remember walking from the Sea of Galilee down to Jericho with enthusiastic haste the day before the first Gulf War with Saddam Hussain. I had intended to go up to Jerusalem past Saint George monastery, but the military nicely, but forcefully had some of the settlers crowd drive me the rest of the way to Jerusalem. Anyway, just to say, I was about twice the age that Mary would have been. It took me one day to do that. Her enthusiastic haste bore the Son of God, giving wings to her feet], 40 and she entered into the house of Zachariah and greeted Elizabeth. [What a greeting! Mary was filled with her “Magnificat” already, her heart and soul bursting with the praise of God…] 41 And it came about that as Elizabeth listened to the greeting of Mary, the unborn child leaped in her womb [This is traditionally understood as the sanctification of John the Baptist in the womb of Elizabeth. This is why the birthday of John the Baptist is celebrated, along with that of Mary and Jesus. He was already holy in the womb, as were Jesus and Mary.], and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit [This cannot but give great joy to our hearts and souls!]. 42 And she cried out with a great exclamation [to be repeated countless times in later centuries] and said: “You are perfectly continuing to remain perfectly blessed among women, and the Fruit of your womb is perfectly continuing to remain perfectly blessed [which completes the first part of the Hail Mary, the earlier parts being those said by the angel Gabriel to Mary, a very biblical prayer…]. 43 And how has this come about to me [such humility, which can always be had before the greatest goodness and kindness, so far beyond us, and yet with us…] that the Mother of my Lord might come to me? [“The Mother of my Lord”… A prophecy to be noted today: the blastocyst is not implanted in the uterus in the mother until about nine days after conception. Give Mary and all her enthusiastic haste, very likely traveling alone, about – what? – a day, two days, three to get to Elizabeth… At any rate, before implantation of the conceived Child, just a few cells at this stage: “The Mother of my Lord”… Pius XII instructed us that the just conceived Jesus in the womb of Mary embraced the entire Mystical Body of Christ from, in fact, the first instant of His conception.] 44 For behold! As the voice of your greeting came about in my ears, the unborn child leaped in exaltation in my womb [Not the normal “kick”!]. 45 And blessed is she who has believed that the things spoken to her by the Lord, perfectly continuing to remain with their perfective force, will have fulfillment.” [Elizabeth… What a great saint… So filled with the Holy Spirit, instructed by the Holy Spirit… knowing the truth of it all. Wow! The two of them! What joy they would have had during those months with Mary helping Elizabeth. Our Lord Jesus, always foremost in their thoughts… Just so awesome… ]

6 Comments

Filed under Jesus, Jewish-Catholic dialogue

6 responses to “Republished: John the Baptist’s birthday, because he was sanctified in his mother’s womb

  1. Monica Harris

    I like this in-your-face method of interlinear translation and commentary–lots to think about.

  2. sanfelipe007

    This is me smiling from ear to ear. Thank you.

  3. elizdelphi

    The homily I heard yesterday (by the very good priest who is my spiritual director) made the contrary point, which I think was the first time I ever heard it said in a homily: that John the Baptist, the last and greatest of the prophets didn’t have sanctifying grace–“the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he”. It was a good and actually profound homily that then got into some deep mystical theology territory. But I have repeatedly heard priests generally of a traditional bent opine that St John the Baptist received sanctifying grace at the time when he leapt for joy in Elizabeth’s womb. I was the sacristan so I asked him in the sacristy after Mass about what he said, since I had heard repeatedly about St John being sanctified in the womb, and Father’s view was that we should prefer not to assume things about extraordinary graces (he pointed to the grace of Mary’s Immaculate Conception as being unique and quite singular). I asked how he thought St John was saved, if it was a “baptism by blood” through his martyrdom, and he said he thought it most likely St John was saved just as all the prophets of the Old Testament. Though we agreed Scripture does not make this or other interpretations certain. What he said appealed to me as well reasoned from what Scripture actually says. What do you think?

  4. Father George David Byers

    To give a kick is one thing. To leap for joy is utterly different. John had all the effects of original sin and was sanctified during life as all the other prophets, sure. But I do think Scripture points to a different and unique starting point for John. This is post-conception and so is not like the Immaculate Conception at all. John is the greatest of prophets while he was alive, not just at the moment of his death. The bit about the least is a compliment: he allowed himself to be filled with our Lord’s grace. Not all of us are so generous.

  5. elizdelphi

    Another detail about the priest who gave this homily is that he was an adult convert from Lutheranism, and this Mass and homily was actually IN an ELCA Lutheran church (of a very traditional old style, it even has a big high altar though they built a projecting platform and table altar after Vatican II like the Catholics)… the Catholic church on the university campus has been torn down and a new and better one is being built and in the meantime the Lutherans are hosting us, which is actually a surprisingly happy arrangement. From that perspective I think one can imagine why he might have ecumenical concerns in mind not to make extraordinary claims. Of course he would unhesitatingly sing the praises of the Immaculate Conception, but considering the objections of many protestants even to that, he might see it as more prudent to take a “conservative” interpretation of John the Baptist if the Church has not made it a matter of faith to believe that John the Baptist was sanctified in the womb. I am not at all suggesting that this priest my spiritual director remains half Lutheran but that he has the evangelization of the Lutherans in mind and not to create any unnecessary hurdle.

    Anyway I think this is one theological dispute where both sides are edifying.

  6. Father George David Byers

    And… and… I will continue to be a donkey!

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