St. John the Baptist the front runner before Jesus Christ. St. John was to become the God ordained messenger proclaiming the arrival of the Messiah Jesus Christ. He was a person filled with Holy Spirit preaching the word and announcing the kingdom. Prepare the way and repent, be baptised. He baptised with water. When he was asked if he was the Messiah? He said the one who comes after me; I am not worthy to untie His shoe laces.
Saint John the Baptist was born to St. Elizabeth and St. Zechariah in Judea.
We read about his birth prior to Jesus in the second Joyful Mystery (visitation of Mother Mary). When Angel Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus Christ to Mother Mary. He also metioned about her cousin Elizabeth who bears a child in the old age and she is 6 months pregnant. Mother Mary goes to visit her cousin and then there is salutation. The child in St. Elizabeth’s womb jumped with joy and rejoiced, that the Saviour of the World has come to visit them.
His early formative years were spent in Judean desert and Monastery. Where he learnt the Scripture and prepared himself with the good knowledge of God’s Kingdom. He wore camel’s hair garments and his diet was locusts and wild honey, a diet to adhere to Jewish purity laws.
His message was clear that God’s Judgement is near and imminent. People should repent for their sins, conversion of sinners and be baptized. He said one who comes after me is mightier than me (I). He also said that I baptise you with water. but one who comes after me will baptise you with Holy Spirit and Fire.
Before Jesus began His public ministry, He was baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, and at that time a voice from heaven said “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”. Holy Spirit in the form of a white dove descended on Jesus Christ.
Saint John the Baptist corrected all people, irrespective of status. Even the ruler was not spared. He spoke to King Herod Antipas about his adultery. He did not lack boldness. He challenged the King. He told him to repent of his sins.
In 29AD Herod Antipas arrested him and put him in prison. Later he was beheaded through a plot devised by Herodias the illegal wife of Herod, who demanded his head on a platter. And it was done to fulfill the commitment to her in public and not to lose the honour of respect.
St. John the Baptist died for truth. He said I am the voice of one calling from the desert. Make straight the way for the Lord.
John’s greatest strength was his focused and faithful commitment to the call of God.
His feast day is celebrated on 24th June. However this year we will celebrate it on 23rd June as we celebrate the Feast of Sacred Heart of Jesus on 24th June.
In Goa we celebrate this feast with lots of reverence and fun too. Jumping in the well is probably a symbolic gesture to his jumping in his mother’s womb.
– Rosarito Coelho