John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist by El Greco
Feast Day: June 24
Canonized: Pre-Congregation

John the Baptist was Jesus’ older cousin. He was a prophet sent by God to prepare people for the coming of Christ into the world.

John’s parents were Elizabeth and Zechariah. They were an elderly couple who had nearly given up hope that their marriage would be blessed with a child. Then the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the temple and told him that Elizabeth would give birth to a son. Gabriel said they should name the child John. (Read about the birth of John in Luke 1:57-80.)

The Gospel of Luke also tells us about the mission God gave to John. He was called to tell people to repent, or to be sorry for, their sins and to be baptized. Before Christ began his public ministry, John told the people to “Prepare the way of the Lord” (Luke 3:4). He said, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs on his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16).

John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. Luke tells us that the heavens opened at that moment and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus. Then the voice of God spoke, saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22).

John preached against King Herod, who was married to his brother’s wife. This was a great sin because the brother was still living. The wife’s name was Herodias. She demanded that Herod arrest John.

Herodias plotted with her daughter, Salome, for revenge against John. At a party, Salome danced for Herod. Her dancing tempted Herod, and he promised Salome that that he would give her anything she wanted. She asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. John was martyred that night.

Just as John prepared people for the coming of Jesus, his brutal death prepared Jesus’ followers for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We thank God for St. John the Baptist. We can honor him by preparing the way for Jesus by being sorry for our sins and trying to live as loving children of God.

Connecting to Blest Are We® Parish and School
Grade 4, chapter 6
The Story of Jesus, unit 5




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