John the Baptist
John's was a voice that could never be silenced
First-century John the Baptist is the last of the Jewish prophets and the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Born into a priestly line, of aged parents under miraculous circumstances, John was a Nazirite, dedicated to God's service from birth. With this, came the obligation never to shave, to take wine, or to indulge in ordinary human pleasures. Instead, John lived in the wilderness, on the fringes of society, a curious figure clothed in the skin of a camel whose words and personality possessed an irresistible magnetism.
John is easily the most startling figure in the Gospels, a man of mystery. Bronzed by the desert sun, with piercing words of ominous malediction, uncompromising and aggressive, John must have presented a stark contrast to the comfortable religious leadership of his day.
Crowds came to him, drawn by his hypnotic power, his eloquence, and his penchant for invective: "You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. . . . Even now, the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire" (Mt 3:7-8, 10).
John's was the last voice of the first dispensation, echoing Moses and Elijah, and the final challenge of the fire and thunder of the God of the ancient Jews.
John prepared the way for Jesus, and, with all his fierceness, exercised a humble ministry. He recognized his place in the great drama of salvation, that he was but the forerunner of the Messiah. When the time came, John graciously made way for the one who was to follow. He shrank even from the thought of baptizing Jesus: "I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Mt 3:11).
John's end was tragic, the end result of sordid intrigue. With characteristic boldness, he had denounced the unlawful marriage of the infamous Herodias to the king, and had been thrown into the gloomy fortress of Machaerus on the shores of the Dead Sea. Then, to gratify the cruel whim of Herodias and her daughter Salome, who danced in Herod's presence on his birthday, John was beheaded. Thus ended the life of this sublime and extraordinary servant of God who blazed the trail for the Lord.
John pointed to Jesus as the "Lamb of God." His words prophesied Jesus' own passion and death for the world's healing and redemption.
Two feasts of John are observed in the universal calendar of the Catholic Church: the Nativity of John the Baptist (June 24) and the Martyrdom of John the Baptist (August 29). The preface of the saint says in part: "You chose John the Baptist from all the prophets to show the world its redeemer, the lamb of sacrifice. He baptized Christ, the giver of baptism, in waters made holy by the one who was baptized. You found John worthy of a martyr's death, his last and greatest act of witness to your Son."
The Parish Office has available a very special memento of our parish patron ― a 6” replica of the magnificent statue of Saint John the Baptist near the baptismal font. Finely crafted in resin, the statue was custom designed for Saint Jean Baptiste’s 125th anniversary in 2007 and replicates every detail of the original statue, even to the off-white coloring of the marble. Cost is only $10.00, plus shipping and handling ($5.00).
SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST - A PRAYER
you raised up Saint John the Baptist
to prepare a perfect people for Christ.
Fill your people with the joy of possessing your grace,
and direct the hearts and minds of all the faithful
in the way of salvation and peace.
Grant that as Saint John
was martyred for truth and justice,
we may wholeheartedly profess our faith in you,
and lead others to Jesus,
the Way, the Truth, and the Eternal Life. Amen.