Universalis
Friday 29 August 2014    (other days)
The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist
 (Friday of week 21 in Ordinary Time)

Office of Readings

If this is the first Hour that you are reciting today, you should precede it with the Invitatory Psalm.


INTRODUCTION
O God, come to our aid.
  O Lord, make haste to help us.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
  as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.
Amen. Alleluia.

Hymn
In ancient times God spoke to us
Through prophets, and in varied ways,
But now he speaks through Christ his Son,
His radiance through eternal days.
To God the Father of the world,
His Son through whom he made all things,
And Holy Spirit, bond of love,
All glad creation glory sings.
Stanbrook Abbey Hymnal

Psalm 34 (35)
The Lord, a saviour in time of persecution
O Lord, arise to help me.
Judge, Lord, those who are judging me:
  attack those who are attacking me.
Take up your shield and come out to defend me.
  Brandish your spear and hold back my pursuers.
Say to my soul, “I am your deliverance.”
Let them be thrown into confusion,
  those who are after my life.
Let them be weakened and put to flight,
  those who plan harm to me.
Let them be like chaff blowing in the wind,
  when the angel of the Lord scatters them.
Let their paths be dark and slippery,
  when the angel of the Lord harries them.
For it was without cause that they spread out their nets to ensnare me,
  without cause that they dug a pit to take my life.
Let death come upon them suddenly,
  may they be entangled in their own nets.
But my soul will exult in the Lord
  and rejoice in his aid.
My bones themselves will say
  “Lord, who is your equal?”
You snatch the poor man
  from the hand of the strong,
the needy and weak
  from those who would destroy them.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
  as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.
Amen.
O Lord, arise to help me.

Psalm 34 (35)
Lord, plead my cause; defend me with your strength.
Lying witnesses rose up against me;
  they asked me questions I could not answer.
They paid me back evil for the good I did,
  my soul is desolation.
Yet I – when they were ill, I put on sackcloth,
  I mortified my soul with fasting,
  I prayed for them from the depths of my heart.
I walked in sadness as for a close friend, for a brother;
  I was bowed down with grief as if mourning my own mother.
But they – when I was unsteady, they rejoiced and gathered together.
  They gathered and beat me: I did not know why.
They were tearing me to pieces, there was no end to it:
  they teased me, heaped derision on me, they ground their teeth at me.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
  as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.
Amen.
Lord, plead my cause; defend me with your strength.

Psalm 34 (35)
My tongue shall speak of your justice, all day long.
Lord, how long will you wait?
  Rescue my life from their attacks,
  my only life from the lions.
I will proclaim you in the great assembly,
  in the throng of people I will praise you.
Let not my lying enemies triumph over me,
  those who hate me for no reason,
who conspire against me by secret signs,
  who do not speak of peace,
  who plan crimes against the innocent,
who cry out slanders against me,
  saying “Yes! Yes! We saw it ourselves!”
You see them, Lord, do not stay silent:
  Lord, do not leave me.
Rise up and keep watch at my trial:
  my God and my Lord, watch over my case.
Judge me according to your justice,
  Lord: my God, let them not rejoice over me!
Let them not think to themselves,
  “Yes! We have what we wanted!”
Let them not say,
  “We have swallowed him up.”
But let those who support my cause rejoice,
  let them say always “How great is the Lord,
  who takes care of his servant’s welfare.”
And my tongue too will ponder your justice,
  and praise you all day long.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
  as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.
Amen.
My tongue shall speak of your justice, all day long.

My son, keep my words in your heart.
Follow my commandments and you will live.

First Reading
Jeremiah 4:5-8,13-28 ©
Announce it in Judah,
proclaim it in Jerusalem!
Sound the trumpet in the countryside,
shout the message aloud:
Mobilise!
Take to the fortified towns!
Signpost the way to Zion;
Run! Do not delay!
I am bringing you disaster from the North,
an immense calamity.
The lion is up from his thicket,
the destroyer of nations is on his way,
he has come from his home
to reduce your land to a desert;
your towns will be in ruins, deserted.
So wrap yourselves in sackcloth,
lament and wail,
since the burning anger of the Lord
has not turned away from us.
“Look, he is advancing like the clouds,
his chariots like a hurricane,
his horses swifter than eagles.
Trouble is coming! We are lost!”
Wash your heart clean of wickedness, Jerusalem,
and so be saved.
How long will you harbour in your breast
your pernicious thoughts?
For a voice from Dan shouts the news,
proclaims disaster from the highlands of Ephraim.
Give warning of it, announce it in Judah,
proclaim it to Jerusalem:
“Enemies are coming from a distant country,
shouting their war cry against the towns of Judah;
they surround Jerusalem like watchmen round a field
because she has apostatised from me – it is the Lord who speaks.
Your own behaviour and actions
have brought this on you.
This is your fate! How bitter!
How it pierces your heart!”
I am in anguish! I writhe with pain!
Walls of my heart!
My heart is throbbing!
I cannot keep quiet,
for I have heard the trumpet call
and the cry of war.
Ruin on ruin is the news:
the whole land is laid waste,
my tents are suddenly destroyed,
in one moment all that sheltered me is gone.
How long must I see the standard
and hear the trumpet call?
“This is because my people are stupid,
they do not know me,
they are slow-witted children,
they have no understanding:
they are clever enough at doing wrong,
but do not know how to do right.”
I looked to the earth, to see a formless waste;
to the heavens, and their light had gone.
I looked to the mountains, to see them quaking
and all the heights astir.
I looked, to see no man at all,
the very birds of heaven had fled.
I looked, to see the wooded country a wilderness,
all its towns in ruins,
at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of his burning anger.
Yes, thus speaks the Lord,
“The whole land shall be laid waste,
I will make an end of it once for all;
at which the earth will go into mourning,
and the heavens above grow dark.
For I have spoken and will not change my mind,
I have decided and will not go back on it.”
Responsory
The whole earth trembles, O God, at the presence of your burning anger. Lord, have mercy on us: do not utterly destroy us.
Restore us again, O God our Saviour, and turn away your anger from us: do not utterly destroy us.

Second Reading
From a homily by St. Bede the Venerable, priest
Precursor of Christ in birth and death
As forerunner of our Lord’s birth, preaching and death, the blessed John showed in his struggle a goodness worthy of the sight of heaven. In the words of Scripture: Though in the sight of men he suffered torments, his hope is full of immortality. We justly commemorate the day of his birth with a joyful celebration, a day which he himself made festive for us through his suffering and which he adorned with the crimson splendour of his own blood. We do rightly revere his memory with joyful hearts, for he stamped with the seal of martyrdom the testimony which he delivered on behalf of our Lord.
  There is no doubt that blessed John suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our Redeemer, whose forerunner he was, and gave his life for him. His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say: I am the truth? Therefore, because John shed his blood for the truth, he surely died for Christ.
  Through his birth, preaching and baptizing, he bore witness to the coming birth, preaching and baptism of Christ, and by his own suffering he showed that Christ also would suffer.
  Such was the quality and strength of the man who accepted the end of this present life by shedding his blood after the long imprisonment. He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men; he was locked away in the darkness of prison, though he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be called a bright and shining lamp by that Light itself, which is Christ. John was baptized in his own blood, though he had been privileged to baptize the Redeemer of the world, to hear the voice of the Father above him, and to see the grace of the Holy Spirit descending upon him. But to endure temporal agonies for the sake of the truth was not a heavy burden for such men as John; rather it was easily borne and even desirable, for he knew eternal joy would be his reward.
  Since death was ever near at hand through the inescapable necessity of nature, such men considered it a blessing to embrace it and thus gain the reward of eternal life by acknowledging Christ’s name. Hence the apostle Paul rightly says: You have been granted the privilege not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for his sake. He tells us why it is Christ’s gift that his chosen ones should suffer for him: The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.
Responsory
King Herod ordered John’s arrest and had him chained and put in prison. Herod did this because of Herodias, whom he had married even though she was the wife of his brother Philip.
The king sent off a guard and had John’s head cut off in prison. Herod did this because of Herodias, whom he had married even though she was the wife of his brother Philip.

Let us pray.
God our Father,
  you appointed St John the Baptist
  to be the herald of the birth and death of Christ your Son.
Grant that as he died a martyr for justice and truth,
  so we also may courageously bear witness to your word.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
  who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
  one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Let us praise the Lord.
– Thanks be to God.

The psalms and canticles here are our own translation. The Grail translation of the psalms, which is used liturgically in most of the English-speaking world, cannot be displayed on the Web for copyright reasons. The Universalis downloads do contain the Grail translation of the psalms.

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