The Feast Day of St. John the Baptist, Forerunner of Jesus
June 24 is the feast day of John the Baptist. He was the last of the prophets sent to “prepare the way of the Lord.” He is known as the greatest of all the Old Testament prophets because he was the direct forerunner of the Messiah, part of Jesus’ extended family, and directly involved in Jesus’ earthly life and ministry.
We remember Saint John the Baptist each time we pray the Second Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary, the Visitation, when the Virgin Mary went in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth following the Annunciation.
John the Baptist leaped in the womb of his mother, Saint Elizabeth, as soon as they were greeted by the Virgin Mary, who then was also pregnant with the Child Jesus. We also remember St. John the Baptist in the First Luminous Mystery, the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river.
St. John the Baptist was from the womb until death a witness to Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Son of God. On this feast day of St. John the Baptist we can remember how much like Jesus he truly was.
Jesus and St. John the Baptist:
1) Were both the same age;
2) Were both from the same family;
3) They both had righteous, godly parents;
4) Their births fulfilled Old Testament prophecy;
5) Their births were announced to their parents by angels;
6) Their names were divinely given;
7) They began their public ministry near the age of 30;
8) They both had a band of disciples;
9) They both preached of a coming Messianic kingdom and a baptism of repentance;
10) They were both righteous men who testified to Truth, and were condemned to death by Roman rulers.
The list could go on and on. St. John the Baptist was truly the forerunner of the Messiah, always a step ahead of Jesus’ ministry. John was born first, began his ministry first, and died a martyr’s death first. And it was clear that Jesus loved him, being deeply grieved when he heard the news of John the Baptist’s beheading at the hand Herod.
Here is one final thing that St. John the Baptist and Jesus had in common: John died because of his defense of the sanctity and integrity of marriage, and marriage was the scene of Jesus’ first miracle and the launching of his public ministry, the wedding feast at Cana, thus sanctifying marriage and confirming it as a Sacrament.
Prayer to St. John the Baptist
“O God, You raised up St. John the Baptist to prepare a perfect people for Christ.
Fill Your people with the joy of possessing His grace, and direct the minds of all the faithful in the way of peace and salvation.
Grant that as St. John was martyred for truth and justice, so we may energetically profess our Faith in You,
and lead others to the Way, the Truth, and Eternal Life. Amen.”