This Daily Devotion is to help our members and others reflect on the understanding of Christian service to our Lord.

Devotion for Thursday, September 2, 2021

The Rt. Rev. Archimandrite, Msgr. George Appleyard

August 29

The death of John the Baptist

An Invitation to Prayer

Bless the Lord, you springs,

sing to him and acclaim him gloriously forever.

—Bless the Lord, seas and rivers,

sing to him and acclaim him gloriously forever.

(Daniel 3:77&78)

Psalm 87(88):1-7

O Lord of my deliverance,

by day I cried to you

and at night I came before you.

Let my payer come before you—

give a hearing to my petition, O Lord.

 

For my life was full of trouble,

and my soul was on the brink of the Underworld.

I was reckoned with those going down into the pit,

a person without help, consigned to the dead,

like casualties laid in the grave,

whom you remember no more,

whom you rejected out of hand.

They laid me in the deep pit,

in the dark places of the shadow of death.

Your fury was all over me,

and you brought all your surges against me.

The Scriptures tell us that the body of John the Baptist was taken and buried by his disciples. The tradition says at Sebaste in Samaria —outside Herod’s jurisdiction—and that members of Herod’s household buried the head on the palace grounds in what is now the Christian Quarter. In the 5th century a Byzantine church was built over the site in Jerusalem and, although destroyed in the Arab incursions of the 7th century, a group of Italian merchants were permitted to rebuild it on the ruins of the earlier edifice. It was here that the Blessed Gerard Tum established his “hospital” on the north side of the church that initiated the Hospitaller Orders that sprang from it: of St. John, of the Temple, and of St. Lazarus.

A Byzantine church was built over the grave-site in Samaria, but it was destroyed in the Arab incursions as well.  The Crusaders built a splendid new church over the earlier ruins, completed in 1187. The church, however, was turned into a mosque by Saladin’s nephew. Since then the Mosque of the Prophet Yahia (the name of John the Baptist in the Quran) underwent multiple renovations and changes, but the Crusader structure is still clearly visible.

A Prayer

Even as our brothers and sisters of an earlier era rebuilt ruined churches as they cared for the sick and wounded, move us to care for the Church that is the Body of Christ, O Father, and to promote healthy faith as well as healthy bodies. To do that well, with integrity and conviction and sensitivity, we may need to rebuild the temple of our bodies, the seat of our minds and hearts, to be your good servants for the glory of your Name. Amen!