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Feast: Birthday of St. John - 24th June
Saint John the Baptist
(the 'Proclaimer'; the 'Precursor'; the 'Baptiser' or the 'Messenger')
Patron Saint of our Town of Penzance

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"The great forerunner of the morn,
The Herald of the Word, is born;
And faithful hearts shall never fail
With thanks and praise his light to hail.

"With heavenly message Gabriel came,
That John should be that herald's name,
And with prophetic utterance told
His actions great and manifold.

"John, still unborn, yet gave aright
His witness to the coming light;
And Christ, the sun of all the earth,
Fulfilled that witness at his birth. >>

"Of woman-born shall never be
A greater prophet than was he,
Whose mighty deeds exalt his fame
To greater than a prophet's name.

"All praise to God the Father be,
All praise, eternal Son, to thee,
Whom with the Spirit we adore
For ever and for evermore."

The Venerable Bede, 673-735 A.D

Mass Readings for the feastday

First reading - Isaiah 49:1 - 6
Give ear, ye islands, and hearken, ye people from afar. The Lord hath called me from the womb, from the bowels of my mother he hath been mindful of my name. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword: in the shadow of his hand he hath protected me, and hath made me as a chosen arrow: in his quiver he hath hidden me. And he said to me: “Thou art my servant Israel, for in thee will I glory” while I had been saying to myself “I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength without cause and in vain”. But my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God, I am glorified in the eyes of the Lord, and my God is made my strength. And now saith the Lord, that formed me from the womb to be his servant, that I may bring back Jacob unto him, and Israel will not be gathered together: “It is a small thing that thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to convert the dregs of Israel. Behold, I have given thee to be the light of the Gentiles, that thou mayst be my salvation even to the farthest part of the earth”.

Psalm or canticle: Psalm 138

Second reading - Acts 13:22 - 26 
And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king; of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will’. Of this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Saviour, Jesus, as he promised. Before his coming John had preached a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie’.
Brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you that fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation.

Gospel - Luke 1:57 - 80
Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. And her neighbours and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John”. And they said to her, “None of your kindred is called by this name”. And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John”. And they all marvelled. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbours. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him. And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

Come, let us worship the Lamb of God, whom John showed us, rejoicing.

St John the Baptist

John the Baptist is the only saint in the calendar who has two feasts to himself: one, in August, to celebrate his death, and one, in June, to celebrate his birth. And this is as it should be, for as Christ himself said, John was the greatest of the sons of men. The greatest, but also the most tragic. A prophet from before his birth, leaping in the womb to announce the coming of the incarnate God, his task was to proclaim the fulfillment of all prophecies – and thus his own obsolescence. And he did it: with unequalled courage he spread the news that he, the greatest of all men, was the least in the kingdom of heaven. His disciples, and the devil, would have preferred him to fight, to build his sect, to defeat this upstart whom he himself had baptized, to seize his place in history. But he did not – and so, rightly, he has his place, and he has glory in heaven. We envy the great and the talented, and sometimes we think that they themselves are beyond envy. But when they come across someone with greater gifts, as one day most of them will, they will see for the first time what it means to feel like us. Let us pray that they, like John the Baptist, may pass that test.


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A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture: from 

"Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet." (Acts 13:25)

As we trace the history of God's chosen people, those He elected to make Him known to the world, we see the meticulous care with which He made Himself known. Beginning with Abraham, He promised to multiply his progeny, to spread to all nations a knowledge of Him. We note the many hardships endured by His chosen ones in an effort to teach them, through experience, His law, which is His truth based upon His love;
this was to be the source of their salvation and through them the salvation of the entire world. Through Kings and prophets, through prosperity and exile, God tried to shape their hearts to receive Him; but the law He gave them, rather than reflecting His love, was turned into a merciless legal system that only a minority, the religious professionals, could follow. At this point God took this as an opportunity to free His people from sin and error, once and for all time. John the Baptist was God's vessel used to awaken the Jews to their need for repentance, cleansing and reform, the first step toward achieving their salvation. The stage was set for their awaited Messiah.

God kept His word in bringing salvation through His chosen people in the Person of Jesus Christ. It was in Christ's human flesh that God revealed His attributes, the love and goodness that He desires to instill in all His children through faith in Christ, a faith that in essence is obedience to His Divine and ever-living Word. Christ died for us first to free us from sin, but also to invite us to be united in mind and heart with Him, so that through His "faithful" the entire world can see His love and truth, desire it, and learn to live in it.
The world has fallen far short of this mark because it refuses to die with Christ to its selfishness, self-seeking, love of ease and pure greed. Yet hope lives on, for we know Christ to be the final victor, and we retain the free will to follow Him.

Blessed Hope, may this world come to believe in You;
open all hearts to receive You that You may instill Your new life in all humanity. Amen.
- Marie Bocko, ocds

Turn from Your Sins!
This messenger was John the Baptist. He lived in the wilderness and was preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had turned from their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. ~ Mark 1:4 (NLT)

Key Thought:
God's messenger was John. He was called The Baptist, or The Baptiser, because he baptised folks who came to him. His mission was a mission of preparing people for the coming of the promised Christ. The purpose of this baptism was a demonstration of their turning from sin to God and to receive the forgiveness of God. What can we learn from John's mission for our life today? First, God uses human messengers to reach the hearts of those seeking to find him. Someone is out there
seeking for God and God can use you to be that messenger! Second, seeking God involves two things: we turn to God and turn away from our sins.  Third, everyone needs the forgiveness of God; none of is righteous and holy on our efforts. In other words, we need God's gracious forgiveness. So I guess you can choose the message today that you need to hear most clearly. Have you come to God to receive his forgiveness and grace? Have you truly turned to God and away from sin? To whom will you be God's messenger?

Today's prayer:
Father in heaven, You are holy and awesome. Your power is beyond my comprehension. As I think about praying to you, I am humbled that you would hear me. Thank you for your gracious forgiveness that you have shared with me through the gift of your Son. I commit my life to you and I turn my back on sin in an effort to flee its grip on me. As a recipient of your grace, please help me see the person, or people, for whom I can be your messenger. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Paul said, "John's baptism was to demonstrate a desire to turn from sin and turn to God. John himself told the people to believe in Jesus, the one John said would come later." Acts 19:14 (NLT)

"Friends, I realize that what you did to Jesus was done in ignorance; and the same can be said of your leaders. But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had declared about the Messiah beforehand -- that he must suffer all these things. Now turn from your sins and turn to God, so you can be cleansed of your sins. Then wonderful times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will send Jesus your Messiah to you again. For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his prophets Acts 3:17-21 (NLT)

So let it be clearly known by everyone in Israel that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified to be both Lord and Messiah!"
Peter's words convicted them deeply, and they said to him and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?"
Peter replied, "Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you and to your children, and even to the Gentiles -- all who have been called by the Lord our God."
Acts 2:36-39 (NLT)

1. Here begins the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.

2 In the book of the prophet Isaiah, God said, "Look, I am sending my messenger before you, and he will prepare your way. 

3. He is a voice shouting in the wilderness: 'Prepare a pathway for the Lord's coming! Make a straight road for him!'" 

4. This messenger was John the Baptist. He lived in the wilderness and was preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had turned from their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. 

5. People from Jerusalem and from all over Judea traveled out into the wilderness to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 

6. His clothes were woven from camel hair, and he wore a leather belt; his food was locusts and wild honey. 

7. He announced: "Someone is coming soon who is far greater than I am -- so much greater that I am not even worthy to be his slave.

8. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!"

9. One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and he was baptized by John in the Jordan River.

10. And when Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens split open and the Holy Spirit descending like a dove on him.

11. And a voice came from heaven saying, "You are my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with you."

~ Mark 1:1-8 (NLT)

Penzance Golowan (St. John Feast) Festival link

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