Synopsis: The Vespers parables for the commemoration of the beheading of John the Baptist contain many prophesies concering him, and also an incredibly poetic and accurate description of the human condition and the solution for it, which John announced – the Messiah. The following is a short exegesis of these readings.
Isaiah 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.
Malachi 3:1-3, 5-7, 12, 18; 4:4-6 1 Behold I send my angel, and he shall prepare the way before my face. And presently the Lord, whom you seek, and the angel of the testament, whom you desire, shall come to his temple. Behold he cometh, saith the Lord of hosts. 2 And who shall be able to think of the day of his coming? and who shall stand to see him? for he is like a refining fire, and like the fuller's herb: 3 And he shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold, and as silver, and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice. 5 And I will come to you in judgment, and will be a speedy witness against sorcerers, and adulterers, and false swearers, and them that oppress the hireling in his wages; the widows, and the fatherless: and oppress the stranger, and have not feared me, saith the Lord of hosts. 6 For I am the Lord, and I change not: and you the sons of Jacob are not consumed. 7 For from the days of your fathers you have departed from my ordinances, and have not kept them: Return to me, and I will return to you, saith the Lord of hosts. And you have said: Wherein shall we return? 12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for you shall be a delightful land, saith the Lord of hosts. 18 And you shall return, and shall see the difference between the just and the wicked: and between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not. 4 Remember the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, the precepts, and judgments. 5 Behold I will send you Elias the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers: lest I come, and strike the earth with anathema.
Wisdom 4:7, 16-17, 19-20; 5:1-7 7 But the just man, if he be prevented with death, shall be in rest. 16 But the just that is dead, condemneth the wicked that are living, and youth soon ended, the long life of the unjust. 17 For they shall see the end of the wise man, and shall not understand what God hath designed for him, and why the Lord hath set him in safety. 19 And they shall fall after this without honour, and be a reproach among the dead for ever: for he shall burst them puffed up and speechless, and shall shake them from the foundations, and they shall be utterly laid waste: they shall be in sorrow, and their memory shall perish. 20 They shall come with fear at the thought of their sins, and their iniquities shall stand against them to convict them. 1 Then shall the just stand with great constancy against those that have afflicted them, and taken away their labours. 2 These seeing it, shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the suddenness of their unexpected salvation. 3 Saying within themselves, repenting, and groaning for anguish of spirit: These are they, whom we had some time in derision, and for a parable of reproach. 4 We fools esteemed their life madness, and their end without honour. 5 Behold how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the saints. 6 Therefore we have erred from the way of truth, and the light of justice hath not shined unto us, and the sun of understanding hath not risen upon us. 7 We wearied ourselves in the way of iniquity and destruction, and have walked through hard ways, but the way of the Lord we have not known.
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