June 23: The Birth of St. John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist played a unique role in the history of God’s people. He acted as the bridge between the Jewish (or Hebrew) and Christian Testaments. He basically belongs to the former, but was present at the beginnings of the latter. At the same time, he died before Jesus had completed His work and before the Church came into existence.

Jesus praised St. John’s greatness, but at the same time said that even the least in the Kingdom was greater than he. While he knew and proclaimed Jesus as the one that all were waiting for and the thongs of whose sandals he was not worthy to loosen, the Baptist never saw Jesus as his Risen Lord, a privilege granted to the very least of the Baptized.

St. John the Baptist’s primary title is “precursor.” His mission was to go ahead of the Messiah and proclaim His coming. As he said modestly, “Jesus must increase while I must decrease.” The Baptist’s life, therefore, has a special meaning for all of us. We are, through our Baptism, also called to be “precursors” of the Lord. Our Baptism gives us the graced opportunity to share our faith and to give witness to the Way of Jesus, both in word and action. If we think about it, this is probably the best way others can come to know and experience the love of Christ.

Let us pray. “O God, who raised up St. John the Baptist to make ready a people for Christ the Lord, give us, please, the grace of spiritual joys and direct our hearts into the way of salvation and peace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

[The Church’s calendar places the Feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist on June 24, but tomorrow we will celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, so today’s Feast is transferred here.]

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