Feast of St. John the Baptist
Today, June 24, 2012, is the Feast of St. John the Baptist. This is celebrated as the birthday, or nativity, of John the Baptist. We have no evidence that this is his actual birthday, but it’s like celebrating Jesus’ birth on Christmas. This day is generally observed by the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican churches.
Life and Death of John
Many Christians interpret that John the Baptist was born to be a preparation for the coming of Jesus. The circumstances of his birth were miraculous, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:5-25). John’s parents, Zecharias (a.k.a. Zechariah) and Elisabeth (a.k.a. Elizabeth), never had children and were beyond the age of being able to have children. Zecharias, a Jewish priest, was chosen by lot to burn incense in the temple of the Lord. While he was doing this, Archangel Gabriel appeared to him. Gabriel told him that Elisabeth will bear him a son, who will be named John. Since Zecharias did not believe Gabriel’s message, he was struck dumb until John’s birth. After nine months, John was born (Luke 1:57-66). The people came to circumcise him. They wanted to name him after his father. Elisabeth told them he would be called John. They told her that there were no Johns in her family, so they asked Zecharias. Zecharias took a tablet and wrote that he shall be called John. At that moment, he was able to speak again. After all of this, Zecharias praised the Lord and was prophesied the future ministry of John (Luke 1:67-80).
At the Anunciation [of Jesus’ birth], Gabriel came to the Virgin Mary and told her that she would be with child. She would name him Jesus. The Archangel also told her that her cousin, Elisabeth, was six months pregnant (Luke 1:36). Mary paid a visit to Elisabeth (Luke 1:39-45). After she gave her salutation to Elisabeth, John leaped in her womb. Elisabeth was then filled with the Holy Ghost and blesses Mary. This can be interpreted as John’s first act of prophecy.
Later in life, John the Baptist started baptizing people in the name of the Lord. He eventually baptized his cousin, Jesus. Heaven opens when Jesus rises out of the water and God gives his blessing to the Son of God. See Matthew 3; Mark 1:4-11; Luke 3:1-22; and John 1:6-34. He was eventually beheaded thanks to Herod.
History of Celebration
This is another holiday that Christianized the pagan festivals of the newly converted Christians (former pagans). The specific holiday that it Christianized was the Summer Solstice.
Have a great day! Have a good feast for the Nativity of St. John the Baptist! Happy Birthday to him!