by Fr. Kevin Joshua Cosme
We usually commemorate a saint’s death day, because we consider it their birthday in heaven. But today is special. This Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist is one of only three times in the liturgical year when we celebrate a birthday. The other two are on September 8, the birthday of Mama Mary, and December 25, the birthday of Jesus. The fact that John’s birthday is right up there with Jesus and Mary’s shows just how special he is in the history of salvation.
The Young John, the cousin of Jesus | Photo from Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals
According to the Gospel of Luke, John and Jesus were cousins. When Mary went and greeted Elizabeth, the baby in her womb leaped for joy. Even as a fetus, John already knew how to recognize the presence of the Messiah.
John grew up to be a fiery and well-known prophetic figure, but when Jesus came into the scene, John drew all attention to Jesus and faded into the background himself, declaring that “he must increase, and I must decrease”.
Fun fact: this day is around the time of the summer solstice, when the day is longest and the night is shortest. It’s like John at the height of his popularity. But after the summer solstice, the days give way to longer nights, just as John gave way to Jesus at the peak of his career. Like John, may we not be self-referential, but learn to point to the presence of the Messiah in our midst.
Flex our Faith Episode 4: John the Baptist) | Aired on June 24, 2021