Monday, September 26, 2022 UTC

JUNE 24: BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST (SOLEMN HOLY DAY)

nativity-of-st-john-forerunner    DIVINE LITURGY – 6:00 PM (LIVE-STREAMED).

PROPERS: 06-24_Nativity_John_the_Forerunner_DL

Streaming via Facebook Live.  https://www.facebook.com/saintscyrilandmethodius/

Parishes live-streaming in the Diocese can be found here: https://www.eparchyofpassaic.com/livestream

You may read more about this feast day here:

https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2018/06/24/101800-nativity-of-the-holy-glorious-prophet-forerunner-and-baptist-joh

https://www.goarch.org/-/the-nativity-of-the-venerable-and-glorious-prophet-and-forerunner-john-the-baptist

For more about veneration of St John the Baptist, visit this link: https://archpitt.org/the-veneration-of-st-john-the-baptist-according-to-the-byzantine-tradition/

Today’s Gospel account is Luke 1:5-25, 57-68 & 76-80 recounts the foretelling of the Birth of John the Baptist, the Birth of John the Baptist and Zechariah’s prophesy that St. John would be strong in spirit and live in the wilderness before appearing to Israel.

Likewise, we celebrate the Birth of St. John the Baptist today. This feast falls around the summer solstice (June 24th), and is known as the “summer Christmas.” On the eve of the feast, great bonfires were once lighted as a symbol of “the burning and brilliant” light, St. John, who pointed out Christ in this world of darkness.  John’s birth was also the result of a miracle. A priest, Zechariah and his childless wife, Elizabeth, had no children and both were advanced in years. Childlessness was a terrible thing for a Jew since it meant one’s name would not be carried on in life. But God intervened allowing the childless Elizabeth to bear a son.

Fr Vasyl’s message:  

From the Holy Gospel we learn that the very Birth of the Forerunner of the Lord was unusual and was accompanied by miracles.

The Holy Prophet’s birth was prophesized by the archangel to his old parents: Zechariah and Elizabeth. The Forerunner is born, and the priest Zechariah is freed from the dumbness with which he was punished for unbelief. The Forerunner is born, and Elizabeth rejoices, who is deprived of infertility.

The importance of the person of John the Baptist is indicated by his name. For the Jewish people, the name was of great importance because it expressed the essence of the person, determined his life path. Therefore, choosing a name was an extremely responsible matter. The Scriptures read that in a miraculous circumcision a newborn baby was given the name John, which means “merciful God.” It is like a prologue, an introduction, to the main part – the story of Christ and his saving work. Thus, the wonderful coming of John the Baptist into the world proclaims that the time of grace, kindness, and divine love is at hand, because by his preaching he was to prepare the people for the approach of the kingdom of God.

Preaching repentance, he did not draw people’s attention to himself. John defined his role clearly and quite humbly: “They asked him, ‘Are you, Elijah?’ “No,” he said. “Are you a prophet?” “No,” he replied. Then they said to him: “Who are you to answer those who sent us, what do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said” (Jn 1: 21-23). John constantly points to Jesus, to the Lamb, and he himself goes further into His shadow, to make more and more space for the One whose coming he preached.

John is a great man. He managed to get to know the Son of God, and at the same time he humbly departed to give space to the Son of the Living God: “He must grow, and I must pray” (Jn 3:30).

The way of life of John the Baptist also deserves attention. The angel, announcing to Zechariah the news of his son’s birth, speaks of his ascetic life: “He will be great with the Lord, he will drink neither wine nor intoxicating drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). From these words it is clear that John the Baptist is a saint. Only a holy man is able to work true miracles – to bring people to God, so the angel says of John: “He will convert many sons of Israel to their Lord God” (Luke 1:16). ).

Standing on the border of the two Testaments, he seemed to see nothing but two things – human sins, in which the world was drowned, and the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. The Old Testament call of the Forerunner to repentance, the call to correction, the cleansing from sins is valid for us who live in the New Testament, after the Coming of the Son of God. St. John the Baptist still cries out to us today, as he once called on the people of Israel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand … Bring forth fruit worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3: 2-8). Therefore, we ask the Forerunner of the Lord to prepare the way for the Savior in us, as in the Jewish people. Let us cleanse our souls from sins, for this is God’s favor. We are all called to the fullness of the Christian life and to perfection in love. That is why each of us can and should be the Lord’s messenger and witness of the Word in this world. Witnessing Christ is the task of every believer, and in this sense John the Baptist is an example to follow.