Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Birth of Saint John the Baptist

Since ancient times, the Church has celebrated the Birth of Saint John the Baptist on June 24.

Six months from now it will be Christmas Eve, and that may seem far away, but today's feast reminds us that the joy of Christmas is always with us. Saint John the Baptist is honored as the “Forerunner” who proclaimed the coming of Christ: “John testified to him and cried out, 'This was he of whom I said, "He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me"'" (John 1:15). In giving him his name, Zechariah said: “You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins" (Luke 1:76-77).

Zechariah and Elizabeth, those two elders of Israel, were both "upright according to the Law," faithful to God's covenant, grown old in the observance of its signs, and in the hope and expectation engendered by its mysterious promises. Now they are filled with joy as they welcome their own miraculous child at his birth. They already know that he is the herald of the fulfillment soon to come, the light who illuminates all things, the One who brings peace: "In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us" (Luke 1:78).