John the Baptist

John the Baptist was a relative and contemporary of Jesus whose life was devoted to preparing the way for the Messiah. As the last prophet to announce the coming of Jesus, he provides a connection between the Old and New Testaments.

Born to Elizabeth and Zechariah 6 months earlier than jesus, John’s birth was extraordinary because his parents were advanced in age and unable to conceive. An angel had foretold his birth, telling them to name him John. Even in his mother’s womb, John lept at the sound of the Virgin Mary’s voice because he knew that jesus was near.

John was Called by God to evangelize, coming out of the desert urging people to repent from their sins, symbolized by baptism with water.

John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River and then acknowledged that he should fade into the background. He directed his disciples to the Jesus, the Lamb of God, and they began to follow Him.

John was arrested by King Herod and ultimately beheaded for condemming Herod’s marriage.

John the Baptist’s preaching to the Jewish people about the coming of Jesus is helpful to Christians today who are preparing for Jesus’ second coming. He is one of the figures highlighted during the Church’s Advent liturgies.

The Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist on June 24, the only birth besides Jesus’ and the Virgin Mary’s included on the Church’s calendar. John’s death is commemorated each year on August 29.

The first great evangelizer:

Called from birth:

In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea [and] saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: “A voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.

Matthew 3: 1-6

Representing continuity and change:

Where John the Baptist lived:

St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way. “Prophet of the Most High”, John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last. He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom”, whom he points out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. Going before Jesus “in the spirit and power of Elijah”, John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 523

Announcing a new exodus:

A call to repent and be baptized:

Baptism by John was purely symbolic:

St John the Baptist is above all a model of faith. Following the example of the great Prophet Elijah, in order to listen more attentively to the word of the one Lord of his life, he leaves everything and withdraws to the desert, from which he would issue the resounding call to prepare the way of the Lord. He is a model of humility, because to those who saw in him not only a Prophet, but the Messiah himself, he replied: “Who do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie”. He is a model of uprightness and courage in defending the truth, for which he was prepared to pay in his person, even to the point of imprisonment and death.

Pope John Paul II, Homily, 24 June 2001

A saint for Advent:

An appeal to conversion:

Heralding the coming of the Lord:

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

Finding something more:

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