Church Celebrates The Nativity Of John The Baptist

Pointing to the great role of this prophet as the herald of the Lord, Jesus himself said of John, “of all the children born to women, there is no one greater than John himself.”

John was born to aged parents, Zachary a temple priest, and Elizabeth his wife. Were they in some way related to the family of Mary and Joseph? It would seem so, but we’re not absolutely sure. Certainly, Mary visits Elizabeth when she comes to know of John’s conception, and thereby sanctifies the child within Elizabeth’s womb.

She is probably present in their home when John is born and Zachary predicts a great future for this little child.

We next hear of John as an active prophet, living a rugged and austere life on the outskirts of the desert by the river Jordan. His preaching and his austerities have made him extremely popular. He calls people to repentance, to prepare for the imminent coming of the Messiah, even while he says he’s a very unworthy herald himself, saying “I’m not fit to tie his shoe laces!”

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Church of John the Baptist Ein Karem Jerusalem Gateway
Soon enough, John gathered to himself several disciples loyal to him. In fact it was felt that perhaps John himself was the Messiah – people compared him to the great prophet of yore, Elijah – but this was something John consistently denied.

John’s moment of fulfillment came when Jesus himself came incognito to be baptized by John in the Jordan. John was inspired to recognize him, and refused, until Jesus quietly persuaded him to do so.

It was at the moment of baptism John experienced a flash of insight, which confirmed John in his knowledge of who Jesus really was.

Such a powerful and outspoken man must have made many enemies. The Jewish establishment disliked him for showing them up as corrupt. Herod, the local ruler who was publicly denounced for living with his brother’s wife, plotted his revenge. He imprisoned John and had him executed at the whim of a dancing girl.

Wherever in the Church we see men and women outstanding in holiness, who stand up for Christian values and are ready to pay for them with their lives, there we see the figure of John the Baptist, the last of the great prophets.

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