June 23, 2006

The birth of St. John the Baptist in the Church calendar: June 24.

Like Christmas, the Birth of St. John the Baptist is a solemnity-- thus ranking liturgically higher than the feast of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary (September 8).

If June 24 falls on a Sunday, then the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist replaces the Sunday that year.

Not so with the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary-- which simply "drops out" that year if September 8 falls on a Sunday.

The only birthdays in the Church's calendar year are:
the Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ (December 25);
the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist;
the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Jesus and John are the only two people in the Bible whose names are given by heaven even before they are conceived.

The Son of God said:
"Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist."

I have posted a homily for the occasion.
Click HERE for it.


Blogger Kevin said...

Fr. Stephanos,

Following the snippet in your post, the Lord also said that St. John was also the least among those in the Kingdom. That has prompted Mr. H. Halley, in his Bible handbook, to say that all Christians (those that will enter into heaven) will be greater than St. John.

I don't believe this to be accurate. Your thoughts, please?

4:51 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Simply being in the Kingdom of God is greater than being the greatest man born-- on earth.

So, in terms of life on earth, St. John the Baptist is still the greatest man ever born.

In the traditional "Confiteor" of the Church, St. John the Baptist is the first male human saint invoked.

In the Litany of the Saints, St. John the Baptist is the first male human saint invoked.

In Eastern Christian spirituality and theology, St. John the Baptist is the second intercessor at the throne of Christ. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the first. This is depicted in the icons called "Deesis".



8:06 AM  
Anonymous Deacon DW said...

Just a thought to share here -

There is an interesting play, in the language of spiritual metaphor, on greatest and least. I am reminded of the Lord's words to us that the first will be last and the last will be first. John's standing in the kingdom of God calls to mind his volutary poverty, which reveals the depth of his humility. John is able to identify the Christ, perhaps because he has made himself the servant of the least, the servant of those who come to God for the forgiveness of their sins.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Joey G. said...

Could you comment about the Patristic placement, taken up by some recent Popes, of Saint Joseph as the greatest human saint second to Mary?

Traditional devotion seems to give the place to John the Baptist, but many writings seem to taut Joseph more.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

I am not personally aware of specifically Patristic estimation of St. Joseph.

Veneration of St. John the Baptist was strongest until about 500 years ago. He seems to have been forgotten in modern popular piety.

The Lateran Basilica is the cathedral of the Pope as bishop of Rome. The original title of that basilica as a church was "Basilica of our Savior". However, it was renamed for St. John the Baptist.

6:44 PM  

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