Nativity of the Forerunner and Baptist John – Exegesis of the Vespers Parables.

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Synopsis: The Vespers parables for the Nativity of St John are what we might expect: the stories of barren women who bare children (notable Sarah, who bore Isaac, and the unnamed mother of Sampson, wife of Manoah) and the seminal passage from Isaiah which prophesies the coming of the Forerunner, with the memorable line "The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God"). What is important about these readings? Since the whole of the teaching of the Baptist was preparation via morality, we can expect there to be a heavy emphasis on how we should live. By the way, astute listeners will recognize that the second reading was incorrectly identified as referring to Hanna, the mother of Samuel, when actually the reading is about Sampson. Of course, Hannah was another barren woman who bore a child. Ooops

SCRIPTURETEXT

SCRIPTUREGenesis 17:15-17, 19; 18:11-14; 21:1-8 15 God said also to Abraham: Sarai thy wife thou shalt not call Sarai, but Sara. 16 And I will bless her, and of her I will give thee a son, whom I will bless, and he shell become nations, and kings of people shall spring from him. 17 Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, saying in his heart: Shall a son, thinkest thou, be born to him that is a hundred years old? and shall Sara that is ninety years old bring forth? 19 And God said to Abraham: Sara thy wife shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name Isaac, and I will establish my covenant with him for a perpetual covenant, and with his seed after him. 11 Now they were both old, and far advanced in years, and it had ceased to be with Sara after the manner of women. 12 And she laughed secretly, saying: After I am grown old 13 And the Lord said to Abraham: Why did Sera laugh, saying: Shall I who am an old woman bear a child indeed ? 14 Is there any thing hard to God? according to appointment I will return to thee at this same time, life accompanying, and Sara shall have a son. 1 And the Lord visited Sara, as he had promised: and fulfilled what he had spoken. 2 And she conceived and bore a son in her old age, at the time that God had foretold her. 3 And Abraham called the name of his son, whom Sara bore him, Isaac. 4 And he circumcised him the eighth day, as God had commanded him, 5 When he was a hundred years old: for at this age of his father was Isaac born. 6 And Sara said: God hath made a laughter for me: whosoever shall hear of it will laugh with me. 7 And again she said: Who would believe that Abraham should hear that Sara gave suck to a son, whom she bore to him in his old age. 8 And the child grew and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast on the day of his weaning.

SCRIPTUREJudges 13:2-8, 13-14, 17-18, 21 2 Now there was a certain man of Saraa, and of the race of Dan, whose name was Manue, and his wife was barren. 3 And an angel of the Lord appeared to her, and said: Thou art barren and without children: but thou shalt conceive and bear a son. 4 Now therefore beware and drink no wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing. 5 Because thou shalt conceive and bear a son, and no razor shall touch his head: for he shall be a Nazarite of God, from his infancy, and from his mother's womb, and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines. 6 And when she was come to her husband she said to him: A man of God came to me, having the countenance of an angel, very awful. And when I asked him who he was, and whence he came, and by what name he was called, he would not tell me. 7 But he answered thus: Behold thou shalt conceive and bear a son: beware thou drink no wine, nor strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite of God from his infancy, from his mother's womb until the day of his death. 8 Then Manue prayed to the Lord, and said: I beseech thee, O Lord, that the mail of God, whom thou didst send, may come again, and teach us what we ought to do concerning the child that shall be born. 13 And the angel of the Lord said to Manue: From all the things I have spoken of to thy wife, let her refrain herself: 14 And let her eat nothing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: and whatsoever I have commanded her, let her fulfil and observe. 17 And he said to him: What is thy name, that, if thy word shall come to pass, we may honour thee? 18 And he answered him: Why askest thou my name, which is wonderful? 21 And the angel of the Lord appeared to them no more. And forthwith Manue understood that it was an angel of the Lord,

SCRIPTUREIsaiah 40:1-3, 9; 41:17-18; 45:8; 48:20-21; 54:1 1 Be comforted, be comforted, my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and call to her: for her evil is come to an end, her iniquity is forgiven: she hath received of the hand of the Lord double for all her sins. 3 The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God. 9 Get thee up upon a high mountain, thou that bringest good tidings to Sion: lift up thy voice with strength, thou that bringest good tidings to Jerusalem: lift it up, fear not. Say to the cities of Juda: Behold your God: 17 The needy and the poor seek for waters, and there are none: their tongue hath been dry with thirst. I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. 18 I will open rivers in the high bills, and fountains in the midst of the plains: I will turn the desert into pools of waters, and the impassable land into streams of waters. 8 Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just: let the earth be opened, and bud forth a saviour: and let justice spring up together: I the Lord have created him. 20 Come forth out of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, declare it with the voice of joy: make this to be heard, and speak it out even to the ends of the earth. Say: The Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob. 21 They thirsted not in the desert, when he led them out: he brought forth water out of the rock for them, and he clove the rock, and the waters gushed out. 1 Give praise, O thou barren, that bearest not: sing forth praise, and make a joyful noise, thou that didst not travail with child: for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband, saith the Lord.


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