by Russell Fleur Gallego
John the Baptist is the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth. Angel Gabriel announced his birth to Zacharias while it was his turn to offer in the temple. Because he did not believe what the angel had told him, since he knew that both he and Elizabeth were already old and barren, he was not able to speak when he went out of the temple after his offering until the birth of John the Baptist.
It is believed that John the Baptist started his ministry in 29 AD (Luke 3: 1 – 3). He is known to attract large crowds across the province of Judea and around the Jordan River. When Jesus came to him to be baptized, John recognized him and said, "It is I who need baptism from you but Jesus still insisted that he should be baptized by John. When John baptized Jesus the heavens opened, and the Spirit of God was seen like a dove. The voice of God spoke, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
John instructed his followers to turn to Christ, calling Him the "Lamb of God" and these people were among the first Christians. Following his baptism of Christ, John's popularity grew so much that he alarmed King Herod. Herod ordered him arrested and imprisoned. John spoke with Herod on several occasions and condemned his marriage to his half - brother’s wife.
This condemnation would be his downfall as King Herod promised to grant a wish to his daughter. In revenge for John the Baptist's condemnation of her mother's scandalous marriage to Herod, she asked for John's head. King Herod reluctantly obliged.
John the Baptist had been a man of humility when he said, “He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30), he models us to exalt God in what we are doing always instead of focusing on ourselves. As the person who paved the way for Jesus and played a great role in the salvation of humankind. John the Baptist has two liturgical feast: the Solemnity of his birth every June 24th and the Memorial of his passion every August 29th.
Prayer to St. John the Baptist
God our loving Father, you sent St. John the Baptist to prepare us for the coming of Jesus. Grant peace to your people as a fruit of our rightful way of life. May the teachings and example of St. John the Baptist guide our country, society and family. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.