Feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist
Luke 1:57-66, 80
As I read today’s Gospel, it prompted me to read more about the life of St. John the Baptist. The Gospel states, "’What, then, will this child be?’ For surely the hand of the Lord was with him." When a child is born, we all anticipate and wonder with the best hopes and dreams of what that child will grow to be. Surely John, whose conception and birth was a miracle in its own right, grew to adulthood living a righteous, devout life.
John is highly regarded in many religious faiths, and in the Old Testament, John the Baptist was thought to be the precursor to Jesus, who was foretold to be the anticipated Messiah.
John began his baptism movement as a way for sinners to repent to prepare for the Judgment Day that would restore occupied Israel. When Jesus came to John to be baptized in the River Jordan, John immediately recognized him as the Messiah and hesitated to baptize Jesus. John standing humbly before Jesus stated, "It is I who needs to be baptized by you." Jesus convinced him to do it, John baptized him and then introduced Jesus as the "Lamb of God." This baptism is said to have marked the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
John was later imprisoned because he denounced the marriage of the ruler, Herod Antipas to Herodias, his former sister-in-law. Herodias’ daughter Salome found great favor with the ruler and he offered her anything. At her mother’s urging, Salome requested the head of John the Baptist.
Today, John the Baptist is known as the patron saint of many cities in Canada and Europe, the island of Puerto Rico, and the country of Jordan where he is believed to have died.
Claire Smith is on the staff of the Province Development Office in Chicago.