Nativity of St. John The Baptist.
Liturgical Solemnity, June 24.
Birth of Saint John the Baptist
Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, Precursor of the Lord, who, being still in the womb, being filled with the Holy Ghost exulted in joy for the coming arrival of the salvation of the human race. His birth prophesied the Nativity of Christ the Lord, and his existence shone with such splendor of grace, that Jesus Christ said there were not among those born of women anyone as great as John the Baptist.
Origin of the Feast
The Church normally celebrates the feast of the saints on the day of their birth to eternal life, which is the day of their death. In the case of St. John The Baptist, an exception is made and the day of his birth is celebrated. Saint John, the Baptist, was sanctified in the womb of his mother when the Virgin Mary, pregnant with Jesus, visits her cousin Elizabeth, according to the Gospel.
This celebration commemorates the earthly birth of the Precursor. It is worth celebrating the birth of the Forerunner, since it is reason for great joy, for all men, to have someone who runs ahead to announce and prepare for the coming arrival of the Messiah, that is, of Jesus. It was one of the first religious festivals and, in it, the Church invites us to remember and to apply the message of John.
Elizabeth, the cousin of the Virgin Mary was married to Zechariah, who was a priest, served God in the temple and awaited the arrival of the Messiah that God had promised to Abraham. They had not had children, but they never tired of asking the Lord. They lived according to the law of God.
One day, an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah, who was startled and filled with fear. The Archangel Gabriel announced that they were going to have a very special son, but Zechariah hesitated and asked him how this would be possible if he and Elizabeth were already old. Then the angel replied that, because he had doubted, he would remain speechless until all this happened. So it was.
The Virgin Mary, upon hearing the news of Elizabeth's pregnancy, went to visit her. And the moment Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child jumped in joy in her belly. This is one of the many gestures of delicacy, service and love that the Virgin Mary has for others. Before thinking about herself, also pregnant, she thought of going to help her cousin Elizabeth.
The angel had commissioned Zechariah to call him John. With the birth of John, Zechariah recovers his voice and the first thing he says is: "Blessed be the Lord, God of Israel." John grew very close to God. When the time came, he announced the coming of the Savior, preaching repentance and conversion and baptizing in the Jordan River.
The preaching of John the Baptist
John the Baptist is the Precursor, that is, the one sent by God to prepare the way for the Savior. Therefore, he is the last prophet, with the mission of announcing the immediate arrival of the Savior.
John was dressed in camel hair, wore a leather belt and fed locusts and wild honey. The inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea and those of the Jordan region came to him. John was baptizing in the Jordan River and people were repenting of their sins. He preached that men had to change their way of life in order to enter the Kingdom that was already close. The first message that John the Baptist gave was to recognize sins, then, to achieve a change, we must recognize the faults. The second message was to change the way of living, that is, to make a constant effort to live according to the will of God. This would serve as preparation for the coming of the Savior. In short, he preached to men the repentance of sins and the conversion of life.
John recognized Jesus by asking Him to baptize him in the Jordan. At that moment the heavens opened and the voice of the Father was heard saying: "This is my beloved Son ...". John testified of this saying: "This is the Lamb of God ...". He always recognized the greatness of Jesus, who said he was not worthy to untie the straps of his sandals, proclaiming that he should decrease and Jesus grow because he who comes from above is above all.
He was a witness to the truth until his death. He died for love of her. Herodias, the illegitimate wife of Herod, for she was in fact her brother's wife, did not want John the Baptist and wanted to kill him, since John repeated to Herod: "It is not lawful for you to have her." The daughter of Herodias, on Herod's birthday, danced and pleased her father so much that he swore to give her whatever he asked. She, advised by her mother, asked for the head of John the Baptist. Herod was saddened, but, by the oath, he ordered that the head of John The Baptist who was in jail be cut off.
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Natividad de San Juan Bautista.
Solemninad Litúrgica, 24 de junio.