That’s from an Advent Preface at Holy Mass. That Saint John the Baptist sang about Jesus, Christ our God, King of kings, Lord of lords, Prince of the Most Profound Peace, the Creator of all, makes me dance for joy.
Dance? I’m baiting some ultra-tradition-al-ism-ists in putting up that picture once again. This causes some of them to say I’m a heretic about mercy, because, it is thought, mercy is not that in which we are to rejoice. We have to be glum and dark and always despairing. That misery reminds me of the first decades of my life:
What I always heard growing up and in the seminary and Catholic universities is that John the Baptist was a shrieking madman foaming at the mouth, a wild-man in the desert: GOD’S JUSTICE IS SENDING YOU ALL TO HELL YOU DAMNED SINNERS! REPENT! REPENT!!!! “He represents justice without mercy,” they said, “you know, the Old Testament,” they said, “no love, sterile, hateful, bad and evil, you know, THE JEWS,” they said.
That’s just wrong, thought I, thus, rebel that I am, taking John the Baptist as my Confirmation name. John was pointing out Jesus: “Behold the Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world.” I was thankful to John for this mercy of pointing us to Jesus by having us correctly recognize ourselves as sinners so that we might be open to forgiveness from the Lamb of God and thus be brought to eternal life. That’s really very good and kind of John. Thanks John!
But that part in the Preface about John singing of Jesus… That is just so very right. Of course John sang about Jesus. Yes. John is so very amazing. Yes. I mean, it would have been in solemn liturgical language, the Hebrew of the Scriptures, not street Aramaic. And John is like the first Desert Father, as it were. So, I bet these were the words of his singing of Jesus:
And maybe, just maybe, this is what it sounded like… just the first petition now…
I bet those who have so viciously condemned me for rejoicing the mercy of God that is founded on God’s justice, who are suspicious of rejoicing even with the angels singing with the shepherds of Bethlehem, might like to punch me in the nose for what they consider cultural appropriation and, at the same time, archeologism, because as tender snowflakes they can only hate as tender snowflakes do.
The Hebrew you see is the Agnus Dei sung at Holy Mass, but in Hebrew. The audio file is yours truly singing just the first petition. I’m not a great singer, but I can still rejoice and leap for joy and sing with John. :-)