By Mary Sayad
The main sources of information concerning the life and ministry of St. John the Baptist are the canonical Gospels. St. Luke being the most complete. From these we learn that this man, who's more appropriate title is "the Messenger of God", Divinely sent to prepare the way of the Lord, was of humble origin. He was the son of the aged priest, Zechariah, and of his wife Elizabeth, who was not only past the age of child-bearing, but had been barren all her life. They patiently prayed for a son. The forthcoming birth of this son was announced by an angel to Zechariah as he ministered about the Alter; and for his hesitancy in believing the announcing he was smitten dumb until the promise was fulfilled. The angel Gabriel instructed Zechariah to call the newborn son, John, and predicted that he should be filled with the Holy Spirit from his birth. At his birth his father, Zechariah, foresaw that his son would be a prophet of the Most High and as St. Luke tells us, "the child grew and was strengthened in spirit, and was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel". (Lk. 1:80).
The Precursor, as John is also called, had been preaching and baptizing for some time when Jesus Came from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized by him. After this baptism, John continued his ministry in the valley of the Jordan until his denunciation of Herod Antipas for living with his brother's wife brought about his imprisonment in the fortress of Machaerus. Here he remained for some time until he was beheaded at the request of the daughter of Herodias. Thus, came to an end one of the greatest "amongst them that are born of women."
Luke 1:76-79, "And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God by which the daybreak from on high will visit us to shine on those who sit in darkness and death's shadow, to guide our feet into the path of peace."
Matt 3:1-3, "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 in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths."
The above quoted scriptures are some of the numerous references to St. John the Baptist in the Holy Bible.
John the Baptist was filled with wisdom by the Holy Spirit and announced the coming of the savior. At the time of his ministry, many listened to him with great expectation. However, some also questioned his authenticity and doubted that he was a great prophet.
We may all emulate John the Baptist by proclaiming the word of the Lord to our neighbors, friends, acquaintances, in hospitals, offices, at our workplace, wherever we are by our good example. John the Baptist shouted out the coming of the Lord, but by our quiet, kind ways, and our willingness to assist those in need of comfort and aid; by demonstrating love for Jesus and Mary through our efforts to forgive and understand, we become joyful announcers of Christianity. Continue to pray for peace in the world, peace in our hearts and the holiness of our Mother Church.
I am including this simple poem and prayer:
Dear friend of mine there is no way
In which I could address you
With more Sincerity of heart
Than just to say God Bless you
My words could wish that all your cares
Would be a little lighter
And I could send you greeting cards
To make your hours brighter
My lips could call good luck to you
Or whisper happy landing
And I could promise you the depth
Of faithful understanding
But I am sure no other thought
Or message would impress you
As lovingly or lastingly
As asking God to bless you
And so I say God bless you friend
In every good endeavor
And may His guiding grace be yours
Forever and forever.
Thank you for continuing the efforts of John the Baptist and the works of Christ's beloved apostles and God Bless you!
Your companion in prayer,