The Nativity of St. John the Baptist
The precursor of our Lord. In the calendar of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, this is one of only three birthdays that we celebrate. With the other two being our Lord’s (December 25) and our Lady’s (September 8), this points to the significant role of John the Baptist in the history of human salvation. John was miraculously conceived to a barren couple. His birth and name were foretold to his father Zachariah by the Archangel Gabriel. For not believing Gabriel’s message, Zachariah was made mute until all that Gabriel had proclaimed came to pass. Tradition holds that upon the visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when Elizabeth (his mother) was filled with the Holy Spirit, John was cleansed of Original Sin. As the one to prepare for the imminent coming of the Messiah, John described his ministry in terms of decreasing his own glory so as to increase the glory of the Messiah (c.f. John 3:30). This truth is taught even in the astronomical phenomenon surrounding the birthdays of John of the Baptist and our Lord Jesus Christ. Today marks one of the longest days in the year, and from this day forth the days will decrease in length. They shall decrease till about the time we celebrate the birthday of Jesus, at which time the days will increase in length.
Grant, we pray, almighty God, that your family may walk in the way of salvation and, attentive to what Saint John the Precursor urged, may come safely to the One he foretold, our Lord Jesus Christ.