The Lectionary readings for the Nativity of St. John the Baptist are about expanding the notion of the Chosen People from the Israelites to everyone. The name chosen, John, breaks one tradition to lead to breaking another tradition in the direction of expanding the notion of the Chosen People. All the while Isaiah presents an exclusiveness confined to the Jews, Isaiah implicitly expands that exclusiveness to all the nations. Psalm 139 is about thanking God for creating all people. In the Acts of the Apostles Saint Paul quotes Isaiah to justify his apostolate to the Gentiles.


First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-6

            Verses 3, 5, and 6 appear differently here from Lectionary reading 64A Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. The difference, without explanation, is sloppy scholarship.


            Isaiah 49:1-11

            Richard J. Clifford, S.J., “The Unity of the Book of Isaiah and Its Cosmogonic Language”[1]

            Isaiah 49:1-11 alludes to the Exodus, so that getting out of Babylon was like getting out of Egypt.


            Isaiah 49:1-6

            Richard Clifford, S.J. and Khaled Anatolois, "Christian Salvation: Biblical and Theological Perspectives"[2]

            The wilderness was like the Red Sea and the servant who would lead them was like Moses.


            Isa 49:1-4 +5c

            Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., “Deutero-Isaiah: Major Transitions in the Prophet's Theology and in Contemporary Scholarship”[3]

            Deutero-Isaiah explicitly denies, but implicitly sustains World redemption.


            Isa 49:3

            Jeffrey A. Gibbs, “Israel Standing with Israel: The Baptism of Jesus in Matthew's Gospel (Matt 3: 3-17)”[4]

            Israel, the nation, the servant in Isaiah 48:3, is a corporate person.


            Isaiah 49:3

            John Paul Heil, "Jesus with the Wild Animals in Mark 1:13"[5]

            In other places, Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6, Israel is an individual.


            Isaiah 49:6

            Steven L. Bridge, review of Steve Moyise and Maarten J. J. Menken (eds.), Isaiah in the New Testament[6]

            Isaiah 49:6 represents a missionary outreach to the Gentiles.


Responsorial Psalm: 139:1-3, 13-14, 14-15

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, United States Catholic Catechism for Adults[7]

            While the Lectionary uses, but does not index, the Catechism both uses and indexes Psalm 139. The Psalm is valuable for giving one purpose in life, namely to honor the Creator. The Catechism uses Psalm 139 in Part I. “The Creed: The Faith Professed,” Chapter 1. “My Soul Longs for You, O God (Ps 42:2).”


Second Reading: Acts 13:22-26

            Verse 22 appears differently here from Lectionary reading 13ABC December 25, The Nativity of the Lord: at the Vigil Mass. The difference, without explanation, is a sign of sloppy scholarship.


            Acts 13:13-52

            Kim Haines-Eitzen, review of Amy M. Donaldson and Timothy B. Sailors (eds.), New Testament Greek and Exegesis: Essays in Honor of Gerald F. Hawthorne[8]

            This volume contains a twenty-three page article by Bruce W. Longenecker, “Moral Character and Divine Generosity: Acts 13:13-52.”


            Acts 13:22-36

            John Kessler, “Sexuality and Politics: The Motif of the Displaced Husband in the Books of Samuel[9]

            Paul is uncritical of David for his ruthless political ambition and ineptitude in family relationships. Using Isaiah, Paul simply praises David, whom God originally praises as a “man after my own heart.”


            Acts 13:22-23

            Robert C. Tannehill, review of Robert F. O'Toole, S.J., Luke's Presentation of Jesus: A Christology[10]

            Acts 13:22-23 is part of the one passage in Acts (Acts 13:22-23; 32-37) where the title Son is prominent. The Lectionary only refers to David as son of Jesse. O’Toole is leading to the title Son of God.


            Acts 13;24-25

            Edwin D. Freed, "Ego Eimi in John 1:20 and 4:25"[11]

            Ego Eimi is Greek for I am he. The Lectionary reference is to where John proclaims that he is not the one, that is, the Messiah.


            Acts 13:24

            Susan R. Garrett, “Exodus from Bondage: Luke 9:31 and Acts 12:1-24”[12]

            John heralded his [Jesus’] coming. Coming may be an allusion of Luke to the whole life of Jesus as a way of life, here leading in but later (Acts 1:21-22) leading out of Jerusalem. Garrett finds this allusion plausible but not convincing, as do I.


            Acts 13:23, 32-37

            Richard J. Dillon, "The Benedictus in Micro- and Macrocontext"[13]

            Acts 13:23, 32-37 constitute the first missionary sermon of Saint Paul.


Alleluia: cf. Luke 1:76


Gospel: Luke 1:57-66, 80


Lectionary reading 587 does not appear in the Western Civilization web site index because the Lectionary index does not include “Solemnities and Feasts of the Lord and the Saints.” This means that scholarly readings require indexing from the other Sundays. The Lectionary does not include Luke 1:57-66, 80 for any Sunday. Rather than make a special effort for the Gospel, the thirteen references readily available are enough. June 24 must fall on a Sunday only once every seven years.



For more on sources see the Appendix file. Personal Notes are on the web site at

[1] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 1 (January 1993) 3, 4.


[2] Theological Studies, Vol. 66, No. 4 (December 2005) 744.


[3] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 1 (January 1980) 5, 23, 24.


[4] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 3 (July 2002) 523.


[5] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 1 (January  2006) 71.


[6] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 1 (January 2007) 190.


[7] Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006, 4.


[8] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 2 (April 2006) 371.


[9] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 3 (July 2000) 409.


[10] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 4 (October 2006) 773.


[11] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 2 (April 1979) 290.


[12] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 52, No. 4 (October 1990) 657.


[13] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 3 (July 2006) 475.