Tag Archives: John the Baptist

Baptism of Jesus

john-the-baptist-collegeville

Statue of John the Baptist in my childhood parish.

  • So, because of Abraham’s lack of faith (and therefore lack of openness to, you know, life, for, like, what, 25 years before he finally believed in the Lord, and not because of his faith but because of the faith given to him by the Lord God, well, because of all that previous lack of faith there would be a punishment, which is that for hundreds of years the chosen people would be enslaved down in Egypt.
  • They were then brought to the Lord God on eagles wings. They went through the sea on dry ground and their pursuers, the soldiers and charioteers of Pharaoh, were drowned as a punishment for enslaving the chosen people for physical labor.
  • John the Baptist, the greatest prophet, preparing for the coming of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, wanted to give people an opportunity to have a humble and contrite heart so that they would be prepared for the words: “Father! Forgive them!” After all, the chosen people of his day had been enslaving each other in sin and deserved to die just like the soldiers and charioteers of Pharoah.
  • John, with utter brilliance, had the people come down into the waters of the Jordan, long a symbol of the sea during the exodus. The people confessed their sins publicly and went under the waters to show that, with humble and contrite heart, they deserved to die like the soldiers and charioteers of Pharaoh for enslaving each other in sin. Perhaps the Lord God would forgive them of their sin.
  • Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, comes down for the baptism to that, under the waters, the innocent for the guilty, He could confess our sins, the Suffering Servant, calling out to our Heavenly Father that He might be treated as guilty of all sin from Adam until the last man is conceived, and thus have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.
  • After this event, when the skies opened, the Holy Spirit descended, and the Father spoke of His Beloved Son, Jesus then spoke of how much He was constrained until He could be baptized with the baptism for which He came, the Baptism in His own blood, the punishment for our sin.

Thank you, John. Thank you, Jesus.

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Those who have no sense of irony, that Jesus is Irony Incarnate, don’t get the plot, and are always stuck on merely external indicators of religion. Too bad, that.

For instance, from the right, about all I’ve ever heard is that Jesus sanctified the waters by His presence, thus recalling the Fathers of the Church, that is, their shorthand way of speaking in homilies and sermons. The Fathers packed in much more than that, but so many of those on the right don’t want to go there. They might get the plot.

For instance, from the left, the filthy, filthy, filthy left, about all I ever heard is that Jesus went down to John’s baptism unto repentance for the forgiveness of sin because He was in fact a sinner and He knew it or at least wanted to look politically correct because everyone else was going down for the baptism.

Jesus, have mercy, bring us into your way of salvation, your self-sacrifice, your truth, your goodness and kindness. Amen.

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Policing justice is mercy: We need cops. Ironies abound in this anti-cop era.

alexamenos crucified donkey

Alexamenos, surely an early Jewish-Christian martyr, bidding us to worship his God and ours (as mocked in this graffito by his Imperial Schoolboy classmates just above the Circus Maximus and Imperial Forum of the Caesars of the early centuries in Rome. His later namesake is the protagonist in a 750 page novel I wrote between chapters of the doctoral thesis on Genesis 2–3.

In God, Justice is Mercy. We can discuss our fine points and distinctions, whereby, as the Common Doctor says, mercy is a potential part of the virtue of justice. But, in God, they are the same. Just stare at Jesus crucified, on Him whom you have pierced. No, really, do it. He became a jackass criminal for us, standing in our place, the innocent for the guilty, redeeming us by becoming exactly what we were, who we are without His grace. How ironic. But there are many who don’t get that. There are many who may think that Jesus didn’t “become sin” for us (see St Paul) evil while remaining innocent. Irony just kills them instead of enlivening them. But that’s entirely their fault. That’s no reason not to provide the irony. And it is true that irony bears the very reflection of what it hates. And I think this bears memorization:

hilaire bellocTo the young, the pure, and the ingenuous, irony must always appear to have a quality of something evil, and so it has, for […] it is a sword to wound. It is so directly the product or reflex of evil that, though it can never be used – nay, can hardly exist – save in the chastisement of evil, yet irony always carries with it some reflections of the bad spirit against which it was directed. […] It suggests most powerfully the evil against which it is directed, and those innocent of evil shun so terrible an instrument. […] The mere truth is vivid with ironical power […] when the mere utterance of a plain truth labouriously concealed by hypocrisy, denied by contemporary falsehood, and forgotten in the moral lethargy of the populace, takes upon itself an ironical quality more powerful than any elaboration of special ironies could have taken in the past. […] No man possessed of irony and using it has lived happily; nor has any man possessing it and using it died without having done great good to his fellows and secured a singular advantage to his own soul. [Hilaire Belloc, “On Irony” (pages 124-127; Penguin books 1325. Selected Essays (2/6), edited by J.B. Morton; Harmondsworth – Baltimore – Mitcham 1958).]

But let’s take a very practical example, shall we? We just lost our entire police force in Andrews except for one officer, the youngest, who started with us. Will he stay? The rest were instantly all snapped up to become Federal agents, that is Tribal Police, which is Federal. Now we need applications. Who will apply. The media has been giving the police around the country a bad rap, undeservedly so.

I’ve heard the shadowy opinion that it’s not nice to be a LEO (Law Enforcement Officer). ‘Tis better to be a missionary of mercy than to be a minister of justice, they say, as if the two were mutually exclusive. But let’s take a look at that. What do police do?

  • Police mostly do domestic calls. Surely this involves the administration of justice for the jerk who is beating his wife to death and is throwing kids through sheet-rock walls in drug/liquor induced temper tantrums. But it is also a great mercy to end that hell for the wife and kids, to get them medical treatment and then a way out of that living hell. And it’s also mercy for the perp, who needs to be tripped on his way to hell. Maybe he can go to heaven.
  • Police do a lot of traffic stops. Surely this involves the administration of justice for the jerk who is driving drunk or is on drugs or is a road-rager or is driving at out-of-control speeds, for he is an imminent danger to himself and the public. But this is also a great act of mercy for the driver and the general public. All will be safer.

Of course, it is said that the down side to all this is that the bread-winner is taken out of the house in the first instance or will lose his job in the second instance as the vehicle will be impounded, blah blah blah. Leave well enough alone they say. They were fine before the police interfered they say. Yet they are happy to watch women and children get smacked down and killed. They are happy not to have the woman and children get safe housing and be put on programs until she and kids can get on their feet again. They are happy to let the perp not get the tripping up he needs. Just the good ol’ boys, you know.

I’m hoping that youngsters who are not carrying the baggage of their elders will become indignant with the reasoning of the good ol’ boys and go ahead and provide a lot of mercy by way of being ministers of justice, LEOs and all that.

To do that well, they would have to be able to bear all the baggage, all the evil of this present generation as if they themselves were guilty of it, that is, to understand that they could be the very criminals they seek to arrest, or better, are the very criminals they seek to arrest, that is, except for the grace of God. Remember the old adage: “There but for the grace of God go I.” Then, after that realization, it’s all about loving others as you would want to be loved by them. If we need tripping up while we are on our way to hell at breakneck speeds, should we not be thankful for someone tripping us up? That’s mercy isn’t it?

With incredible racism and anti-Semitism, Saint John the Baptist is hailed by many as being all about justice and has nothing to do with mercy, because, you know, he’s all about the Old Testament and we’re children of the New Testament. I know of no more merciful prophet in the Hebrew Scriptures than John, who is praised by none other than Jesus, the very Son of God, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Wonder-Counselor, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, He who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

 

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John dances like a camel, I like a donkey, and what about you?

Image result for dancing camel gif

  • John leaped in the womb for joy in the womb of his mother Elizabeth at the presence of Jesus in the womb of Mary, who herself gave voice to the joy of Jesus.
  • John was clothed in camel hair. Super penitential, right? Yes. Dour? Not at all. It’s called not taking oneself seriously, freeing one up to be joyful in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It’s not that John, the greatest of prophets, didn’t have to learn anything:

  • Let it be for the sake of the fulfillment of all righteousness…
  • As the Master, so the disciple: yes, you’ll have to get your head cut off… Blessed is he who is not offended by me…

And with that, John, not taking himself seriously, faced his death with joy, dancing for joy as much as he could in his chains, in a dungeon. Perhaps you dance like John?

Meanwhile, we build shrines to the saints (like this post), not to say that we wouldn’t have handed the sword to the soldier of Herod who cut off John’s head, for we would all do that given the circumstances and our own idiocy, but rather to say that, with God’s grace, of which they spoke, we can repent of our celebrations of the ways of this world and learn to rejoice, to dance for joy, to leap for joy at the presence of the Lord Jesus in our lives. Perhaps you dance like this with Jesus…

byers dance paul vi audience hall

I dance like a donkey. I admit that we might be a bit dour when we start on this epic spiritual journey, playing the part of the ass of a donkey, so to speak, still taking ourselves a bit too seriously, but then we are introduced little by little to the joy of recognizing the presence of the Lord Jesus with us, and then we also dance for joy, even helping others to do the same. A good friend saw this donkey the other day and couldn’t resist getting it for me, donkey that I am… Ha ha ha…

donkey---

Meanwhile, I’m sure that Saint John Vianney’s condemnation of the ludicrous dancing in Ars won’t come my way for me being happy to dance for joy in the Lord no matter what. The patron saint of priests, for the dedication of the Baptist’s chapel in his little parish church quipped that “John lost his head for a dance”. Sure. But there are different kinds of dancing. John was also happy to dance with abandon before the Lord, as did David. There’s a long and happy tradition of dancing in Judeo-Catholic life.

It is said by the students of the Tilma that Our Lady of Guadalupe is dancing. Perhaps you dance like Jesus’ good mom:

guadalupe-

Even Laudie-dog, Break-dance-dog, demonstrates her joy. Perhaps you dance like Laudie-dog:

laudie dog break dance

  • Hey John, they’re gonna cut your head off…
  • Oh, O.K. I guess I’ll have to dance like a chicken with my head cut off…

martyrdom of saint john the baptist

Look… Really…. JOY no matter what…

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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.

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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… ]

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If John the Baptist was decapitated for witnessing to marriage, must we not be politically incorrect with him?

martyrdom of saint john the baptist

All the hints that we have in the Gospels reveal that, back in the day, pretty much no one except John, and then Jesus, was preaching about the sanctity of marriage. Everyone was busy misinterpreting Moses’ permission to write a bill of divorce, conveniently forgetting the bit about “because of their hardness of heart.” That comment of Jesus means that what Moses actually said with his permission as they bothered him non-stop, harassing him for permission was this:

“Sure, go ahead, write your little damned bill of divorce! Use it! See if I care you hard hearted haters of God and neighbor! No, really! Go to hell, too!”

Peter was lost in admiratio about this. He just couldn’t get over it. He protested. “Lord, if it’s really that way then it’s better not to get married!”

Amazement and incredulity haven’t changed much. It’s all mushy interpretation of Moses’ “permission.” But Jesus says, “From the beginning it was not so.”

Here’s the deal: John pointed to the marriage of Jesus with His Bride the Church, pointed to wedding vows of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world: This is my body given for you in sacrifice, my blood poured out for you in sacrifice. People hated John for that. It would be Jesus’ turn very soon. It was right after the beheading that we have the multiplication of the loaves.

All of this is all about Jesus. We forget Him. Why is that? Do we hate Him? Without grace, we do hate Jesus. I know, for one, that I’ve crucified the Son of the Living God with my sin, original sin and whatever other rubbish I’ve ever done in my own life. If we don’t admit we’ve all done that, we are not with Jesus, but actively against Him, hating Him, and looking to kill off in whatever way those who would, as John, speak of proper marriage.

padre pio ecce agnus dei

“Ecce Agnus Dei qui tollit peccata mundi…”

I have to wonder how many priests, when they hold up the Lamb of God, know that they are saying the words of Saint John about the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world by laying down His own life, being wedded to His Bride the Church. If more understood this, I think there would be less problems with marriage today. Priests have to understand that they themselves are married to the Church by the Sacrifice they offer, saying the wedding vows of Jesus in the first person singular: This is my body given for you in sacrifice… my blood poured out for you in sacrifice…

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