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Memorial of the praise of Saint John the Baptist

The Eastern Church celebrates today the congratulations of St. John, who deserved to be praised after he baptized Jesus. There is no man like John the Baptist on whose behalf God gave testimony. Today’s tradition is in fact evangelic and goes back to the evangelists who praised John the Baptist first. Saint Luke says that John’s mother was barren, and she conceived with him after the announcement of Gabriel the angel to Zachariah his father. Jesus blessed John while he was still a fetus, when his mother told Mary: “Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy” (Lk. 1:44).

Since his early childhood John led a hermit life in the desert, his cloth was a camel’s skin, with a leather belt on his waste, and he ate locust and raw honey.

John was a prophet, as he prophesized about Jesus saying “after me will come He who is greater than me, and He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire”. Jesus called him an angel “This is whom the scripture spoke about: here I send my angel before your face.” Jesus also testifies that John is indeed a prophet, when he says: “What have you gone out to the desert looking for? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, he is greater than a prophet.” John could recognize Jesus and point the finger at him, saying: “here is the Lamp of God.” John is also an apostle, a messenger, because God sent him before His Son to prepare the road. He is a preacher because he prepared the hearts of the people to receive Jesus. He is even greater than an apostle, because he baptized Jesus the Lord of apostles. He is a confessor because he confessed that he is not Christ, but a messenger before him. He is a priest, a descendent of the priestly house, who got to baptize and serve our High Priest and the maker of priesthood. He is a martyr because he was decapitated by Herod who wanted to please that bad Herodia. Finally, the words of Our Lord in person, give the greatest glory to John: “In truth I tell you, of all the children born to women, there has never been anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Mat. 11:11). John’s martyrdom was toward the year 30 AD. May his prayers be with us. Amen.