Today is the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. St. John the Baptist, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, was born into a priestly family. His birth was miraculously announced to his father by an angel of the Lord (Luke 1:5-23), and on the occasion of his birth, his aged father proclaimed a hymn of praise (Luke 1:67-79). This hymn is entitled the Benedictus and serves as a Gospel Canticle in the service of Matins. Events of John’s life and his teachings are known from accounts in all four of the Gospels. In the wilderness of Judea, near the Jordan River, John began to preach a call to repentance and a baptismal washing, and he told the crowds, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has arrived” (Matthew 3:2). John denounced the immoral life of King Herod Antipas, with the result that Antipas had him imprisoned in the fortress of Machaerus near the Dead Sea. There he had John beheaded (Mark 6:17-29). John is remembered and honored as the one who with his preaching prepared the way for Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:3) and pointed to “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Collect of the Day:
Almighty God, through John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, You once proclaimed salvation. Now grant that we may know this salvation and serve You in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.