This coming Wednesday, June 24th is the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist (1st Class Feast). We are honored at St. Ann Catholic Church in Charlotte that Father Jason Barone will be visiting us to commemorate this feast with a Solemn High Mass at 6:00 pm. Please join us if you are able.
To demonstrate the honor that the Church bestows on St. John the Baptist, this feast is one of only three birthdays in the Roman Liturgical Year — the other two being those of Jesus Christ (December 25th) and the Blessed Virgin Mary (September 8th).
[June 24th] celebrates John’s birthday; his death by beheading, or “decollation,” will be commemorated on 29 August.This Feast honors the great St. John, the greatest of all Prophets — so great that Our Lord said of him in Matthew 11:11-15
Amen I say to you, there hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is the lesser in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John: And if you will receive it, he is Elias that is to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Typified by Elias (Elijah), described in 4 Kings 1:8 as ” A hairy man with a girdle of leather about his loins,” John baptized in the same place Elias was taken up into Heaven:
4 Kings 2:1, 7-13, 19-22
And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elias into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elias and Eliseus (Elisha) were going from Galgal…
And fifty men of the sons of the prophets followed them, and stood in sight at a distance: but they two stood by the Jordan. And Elias took his mantle and folded it together, and struck the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, and they both passed over on dry ground. And when they were gone over, Elias said to Eliseus: Ask what thou wilt have me to do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Eliseus said: I beseech thee that in me may be thy double spirit. And he answered: Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless if thou see me when I am taken from thee, thou shalt have what thou hast asked: but if thou see me not, thou shalt not have it. And as they went on, walking and talking together, behold a fiery chariot, and fiery horses parted them both asunder: and Elias went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Eliseus saw him, and cried: My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the driver thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own garments, and rent them in two pieces. And he took up the mantle of Elias, that fell from him: and going back, he stood upon the bank of the Jordan…
And the men of the city said to Eliseus: Behold the situation of this city is very good, as thou, my lord, seest: but the waters are very bad, and the ground barren. And he said: Bring me a new vessel, and put salt into it. And when they had brought it, He went out to the spring of the waters, and cast the salt into it, and said: Thus saith the Lord: I have healed these waters, and there shall be no more in them death or barrenness. And the waters were healed unto this day, according to the word of Eliseus, which he spoke.
John’s coming was foretold —
Isaias 40:1-5: Be comforted, be comforted, my people, saith your God. Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and call to her: for her evil is come to an end, her iniquity is forgiven: she hath received of the hand of the Lord double for all her sins. The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough ways plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see, that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken.
Malachias 4:4-6: Remember the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, the precepts, and judgments. Behold I will send you Elias the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers: lest I come, and strike the earth with anathema.
Matthew 3:1-3: And in those days cometh John the Baptist preaching in the desert of Judea. And saying: Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by Isaias the prophet, saying: A voice of one crying in the desert, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.
His birth was surrounded by the miraculous: the angel Gabriel’s visit to John’s father, Zachary, to announce that he would have a son who will be called John, John’s recongition of the Savior while still in his mother’s womb, and the manner in which Zachary regained his speech and prophecied at John’s circumcision:
And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they called him by his father’s name Zachary.
And his mother answering, said: Not so; but he shall be called John. And they said to her: There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.
And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And demanding a writing table, he wrote, saying: John is his name. And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened, and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came upon all their neighbours; and all these things were noised abroad over all the hill country of Judea. And all they that had heard them laid them up in their heart, saying: What an one, think ye, shall this child be? For the hand of the Lord was with him. And Zachary his father was filled with the Holy Ghost; and he prophesied, saying:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; because he hath visited and wrought the redemption of his people: And hath raised up an horn of salvation to us, in the house of David his servant: As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who are from the beginning: Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us: To perform mercy to our fathers, and to remember his holy testament, The oath, which he swore to Abraham our father, that he would grant to us, That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him without fear, In holiness and justice before him, all our days. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways: To give knowledge of salvation to his people, unto the remission of their sins: Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us: To enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace.
Blessed be God, Thrice Holy.