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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Feast Saint John the Baptist - June 24

Saint John the Baptist
June 24


A voice cries out, “Prepare in the wilderness a road for the Lord!
Clear the way in the desert for our God!” (Isaiah 40:3)

The birth of Saint John the Baptist was foretold by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:19)to his father, Zechariah as he offered incense in the Temple. (Luke 1:11-14) From his birth John would be filled with the Holy Spirit, his mission to prepare the way for Christ, to turn the disobedient back to the way of the righteous; his witness would bring many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. (Luke 1:15-17)

In the womb of his mother Elizabeth John recognized the presence of Jesus in the womb of His mother Mary, by leaping for joy. (Luke 1:41) Zechariah who was struck “unable to speak” during a moment of disbelief in God (Luke 1:20), regained his speech at John’s birth the moment he wrote out the name of his son (Luke 1:63) Zechariah then filled with the Holy Spirit spilled forth God’s message that God “has provided for us a mighty Savior, a descendant of his servant David….You [John] will go ahead of the Lord to prepare his road for him, to tell his people that they will be saved by having their sins forgiven.” (Luke 1:67-79) John then lived in the desert until the day when he appeared to the people of Israel.

“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. . .the word of the Lord was made unto John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching, ‘Turn away from your sins and be baptized, and God will forgive your sins.’” (Luke 3:1-3) Many came to be baptized by John, a man dressed not in fancy clothes but in garments made of camel’s hair, who dined on locusts and wild honey. (Matthew 3:4) It was John as he spoke out in the desert “Turn away from you sins, and be baptized, and God will forgive your sins.” (Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3-6, Matthew 3:2) who fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah in 40:3-5. John confirms the fulfillment himself when he answers the Jewish authorities question about his identity with, “I am ‘the voice of someone shouting in the desert: Make a straight path for the Lord to travel!’” (John 1:23) John was the voice sent to proclaim the Incarnate Word.

The following day, after being questioned by the Jewish authorities, Saint John saw Jesus coming to him, and spoke the glorious words Catholic’s hear every day at Mass during Consecration, “there [this] is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) As Jesus rose from the waters of Baptism, the Spirit of God came down like a dove, alighting upon the head of Our Lord, as a voice from heaven announced, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17) It is with the Baptism of Our Lord, the Spotless Lamb of God that Christ began the penance for the sins of the world.

After John baptized Jesus he gave his testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and stay on him. I still did not know that he was the one, but God, who sent me to baptize with water, had said to me, ‘You will see the Spirit come down and stay on a man; he is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen it,…and I tell you that he is the Son of God.” (John 1 32-34)

John continued to baptize, and preach, bearing witness without compromise. He told Herod the ruler of Galilee that it was wrong for him to marry his brother’s wife Herodias. This angered Herod who had Saint John arrested and put in prison. On Herod’s birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced at the feast. Herod told the girl he would give her anything she asked for. “At her mother’s suggestion she asked him, ‘Give me here and now the head of John the Baptist on a plate.’” (Matthew 14:8) Saint John the Baptist was beheaded in prison.

Fr. James Kubicki S.J.
Apostleship of Prayer
The Birth of John the Baptist

Birth of Saint John the Baptist - Tintore
Naming of John the Baptist - Fra Angelico
Baptism of Christ - da Vinci
Beheading of Saint John the Baptist - Peter Paul Rubens

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