Today is the eve of the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (St. John’s Day). The vigil and nativity day are celebrated by Catholics around the world. Our Lord said of St. John:
Amen I say to you, there hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is the lesser in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John: And if you will receive it, he is Elias that is to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Matthew 11:11-15
This vigil and feast day are special in the Church year as noted in the introduction to today’s Mass propers:
“The important feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist is preceded by a vigil. An angel announced to the saint’s father Zachary, a priest of the house of Aaron, that the child should be called John and that many would rejoice in his birth. God had chosen John to be the herald of mankind’s Redeemer, the morning star to usher in the daylight of justice and of truth. Therefore he was sanctified in his mother’s womb, when Elizabeth was honored by a visit from the Virgin Mother of God, carrying Christ in her body. In like manner, Jesus today gives sanctifying joy to the missionary precursors whom He calls to go before Him into pagan lands.” source
Fisheaters notes that:
…this Feast is one of only three Feasts that commemorate birthdays, the other two being the birthday of Jesus on 25 December, and that of Our Lady on 8 September. And what do all three have in common? They were all three born without original sin! Our Lord and Lady were both, of course, conceived without sin, but St. John the Baptist, though not conceived in this way, was filled with grace in the womb of his mother, the aged and barren Elizabeth, and so was born without original sin. This is evident by his recognizing the Savior even in the womb, and by the Angel’s words to his father, the priest Zachary (Zacharias) who went to the Temple to pray that his wife should conceive:
There are many customs associated with this feast, that can be found at Fisheaters.
John the Baptist is a unique figure amidst all of the saints and prophets: a man of courage, a man who loved and served God with all of his heart and soul.
May you have a blessed day.