Lives of Saints - The Nativity of the Honourable Forerunner, St. John the Baptist Christianity - Books
If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don't have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.                If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but don't have love, I am nothing.                If I dole out all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but don't have love, it profits me nothing.                Love is patient and is kind; love doesn't envy. Love doesn't brag, is not proud,                doesn't behave itself inappropriately, doesn't seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; 13:6 doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;                bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.                Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with.               
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The Nativity of the Honourable Forerunner, St. John the Baptist
   

Behold I send my messenger before your face, Who will prepare Your way before You. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight'.

St John's is the only saint's birthday celebrated throughout the church calendar year. St. John is remembered on three other days as well, but they all deal with the discovery of his Holy relics.

His father, Zacharias, a Hebrew priest, was struck dumb by the Archangel Gabriel at the altar when he would not believe the archangel's news that his wife Elizabeth (a very old woman) would conceive a son. He got his voice back when writing, on the day of the child's circumcision, that his name would be John. When Herod sent soldiers to kill the infants in Jerusalem in search of Jesus, St. John also was at risk. Elizabeth hid the baby, and in anger Herod had Zacharias killed near the temple. Elizabeth hid in a cave with the baby and died when he was forty days old. St. John remained in the wilderness where he was raised by angels. The presence of St. John and his disciples was not felt until about one year before the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. He preached repentance in the wilderness and not the cities, and the crowds came to him. He is known as the Baptist and Forerunner of Christ, because of his role in preparing the people for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Source: http://www.orthodoxchristian.info

St. John, the Forerunner and Baptist of Christ

Six months before his appearing to the most holy Virgin Mary in Nazareth, the great Gabriel, archangel of the Lord, appeared to Zacharias the High Priest in the Temple in Jerusalem. Before he revealed the miraculous conception by a virgin who had not known a man, the archangel revealed the wondrous conceiving by an old and barren woman. Zacharias was unable at once to believe the words of God’s herald, and for this his tongue was bound in dumbness and remained thus until the eighth day after John’s birth. The kinsfolk of Zacharias and Elizabeth gathered together on that day for the infant’s circumcision and naming. When they inquired of the father how he wished the child to be called, he, being still dumb, wrote on a slate: ‘John’. At that moment his tongue was loosed and he began to speak. Zacharias’ house was on the heights between Bethlehem and Hebron. The news of the angel’s appearing to Zacharias, of his dumbness and of the loosening of his tongue at the exact moment that he wrote ‘John’, was carried throughout all Israel, coming to Herod’s ears.

So, when he sent men to kill all the infants around Bethlehem, he sent men off to Zacharias’ family house in the hills to slay John also. But Elizabeth hid the child in good time. The king was enraged at this, and sent an executioner to the Temple to kill Zacharias (for it was then his turn to serve in the Temple again). Zacharias was killed between the court and the Temple, and his blood clotted and solidified on the paving slabs, and remained as an enduring witness against Herod. Elizabeth hid herself and the child in a cave, where she soon died. The young John remained in the wilderness alone in the care of God and His angels.

Troparion Tone 4:
O Prophet and Forerunner of the coming of Christ,/ we honor thee lovingly but cannot extol thee worthily;/ for by thy birth/ thy mother’s barrenness and thy father’s dumbness were unloosed;/ and the Incarnation of the Son of God is proclaimed to the world.

Kontakion Tone 3:
The formerly barren one today gives birth to the Forerunner of Christ/ Who is the fulfillment of prophecy./ For the Prophet, Herald and Forerunner of the Word/ submitted to Him Whom the prophets foretold/ by laying his hand on Him in the Jordan.

Source: http://www.fatheralexander.org

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