Lives of Saints - The Nativity of the Honourable Forerunner, St. John the Baptist Christianity - Books
I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.                You shall have no other gods before me.                You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:                you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me,                and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.                You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.                Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.                You shall labor six days, and do all your work,                but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates;                for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.                Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.                You shall not murder.                You shall not commit adultery.                You shall not steal.                You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.                You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.
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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.


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.


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