Sunday of Advent
Thoughts for the Week - Fr R Taouk
7th December 2014
'The Voice of One Crying Out in the
Wilderness' by St. Vincent Ferrer
Why does Holy Mother
the Church in this holy time of Advent, in which the whole
interest ought to be about Christ, make such a great
mention of St. John the Baptist in today's gospel?
For this response I
find in St. John four excellences greater than other saints.
First is his gracious birth, because he already was holy
before his birth. Second is his painful passion, because he
was decapitated because of the dance of a young girl. Third
is his virtuous life because when he was five years old, he
immediately left the world and entered the wilderness.
Fourth is the fruitful doctrine of announcing and preaching
the coming of the Messiah. From these four excellences God
has exalted John above all saints saying, "There has not
risen among them that are born of women a greater than John
the Baptist" (Mt 11:11). For this reason Holy Mother the
Church celebrates feasts of St. John four times. First of
his birth. Second of his suffering. Third of his virtuous
life. And fourth of his fruitful preaching, and about this
we read in today's gospel. For no other saint is there a
feast four times a year, only St. John the Baptist. Of the
apostle Peter we have three feasts. Of St. Paul, two, but of
St. John, four. And of this feast today he himself says, "I
am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness" (Jn
1:23), namely from the efficacy of preaching and his
teaching. The first question is clear.
Why does St. John,
wishing to promote his teaching, call himself "a voice",
Wouldn't it have been better [to say], "I have a voice"?
St. John calls himself a voice for two reasons.
First in excellently
demonstrating his office: The proper office of the voice is
to manifest and show the purpose of the heart, or the
concept of the mind. As for the second reason: The skill of
a preacher is that he preaches with all his members and
powers. Not only the mouth of the preacher should preach,
but also his life, his morals and reputation. Also the
intellect by studying, the memory by contemplating, the
heart, hand, gestures, all used continually and skillfully.
So a good preacher ought to be a voice in every way. About
this voice I find a wonderful prophecy of David, who
allegorically prophesying about St. John says: "The voice of
the Lord is upon the waters; the God of majesty has
thundered, The Lord is upon many waters. The voice of the
Lord is in power; the voice of the Lord in magnificence"
Here John is called
a voice seven times because of seven teachings, which he was
preaching. The first was the teaching of baptism. Second was
the teaching of penance. The third was authoritative
teaching. The fourth was rebuking teaching. The fifth was
corrective teaching. The sixth was blaming teaching. The
seventh was instructive teaching.