Saint of the Day ~ June 24

SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST (c.4 B.C.-c.28), prophet and martyr – Patron saint of Baptisms, converts, monastic life and those suffering from epilepsy and convulsions

Today, the universal Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, a prophet mighty in word and deed, and who heralded the coming of Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist spent his adult life preparing the way for Jesus and proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2), and Jesus would say of him, “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John” (Luke 7:28a). But the humility which John embraced in his own life would probably agree with Jesus’ next statement, “Yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28b).

John was an elder cousin of Jesus and the son of Zachary and Elizabeth. He completed the line of Old Testament prophets begun with Elijah, and was the immediate precursor or forerunner of the prophesied Messiah. As a prophet, John was to prepare the way for our Lord, for it was John who “came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him” (John 1:7).

John’s baptism was one of repentance. And he would tell those who questioned him, “…but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16bcd).

John would continue in his mission of preaching the Truth, even to the point where it would cost him his own life by being beheaded, becoming a martyr during Jesus’ ministry, dying, like so many other prophets before him, at the hands of godless men.

Today, we honor this “voice of one crying out in the desert”, who was born to “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” (Luke 3:4b). May we find in John the challenge to our own Christian way of life, in which we are each called to make straight our paths, for the sake of God’s Kingdom here on Earth.

(Please see today’s “Meditation for the Day” for more on Saint John the Baptist.)

We celebrate the Solemnity of his birth on June 24.

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(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint John the Baptist)

“God our Father, You raised up John the Baptist to prepare a perfect people for Christ the Lord. Give Your Church joy in spirit and guide those who believe in You into the way of salvation and peace.

“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

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