SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH

ST. JOHN BAPTIST

St. John the BaptistHe was born of the aged and barren Elizabeth. The Nativity of the Venerable and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John is celebrated on June 24. When Zacharias was told by the angel that he would be a father, Zacharias had not been able to talk. He was struck dumb by the angel because he did not believe that his wife, Elizabeth, would bare a son. On the eighth day after John was born, when he was circumcised, he was to be given his name. Those who were present called him the name of his father, Zacharias. But Zacharias motioned "no" and wrote: His name shall be John. At that moment, Zacharias' voice was returned to him and he praised the God of Israel.

The child grew strong and lived in the wilderness until the day he started to preach. He became known as the Forerunner of Christ's coming into the world because he preached about the coming Messiah. He is also known as the Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness, the God sent Messenger of the incarnate Messiah. He preached the baptism of repentance according to God's Command. He filled the people with the fear of God, teaching them that no one is able to escape the wrath to come if he does not work toward repentance. Through such preaching, he prepared the hearts of all people to receive the evangelical teachings of the Saviour. About the beginning of the Lord's thirtieth year, John the Forerunner, who was some six months older than our Saviour, came to the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then our Saviour also came from Galilee to the Jordan, and sought and received baptism - though He was the Master and John was but a servant. The Heavens were opened, the Spirit descended in the form of a dove upon Him that was being baptized, and a voice was heard from the Heavens bearing witness that this was the beloved Son of God, now baptized as a man (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:1-22) . When Jesus approached John, John said, "Behold the Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sin of the world" (Luke 3:2-18, John 1:29-36).

Herod Antipas was, at that time, Tetrarch of Galilee. He was a married man who had put his wife away and married Herodias, the wife of his deceased brother Philip to whom Herodias had borne a daughter, Salome. John preached against this union which made Herodias angry with him. Herod apprehended John and shut him in prison. Perhaps he would have killed him, but he feared the people who had extreme reverence for John. In the beginning, he himself had great reverence for this just and holy man. But finally, at a celebration for his birthday, when Salome danced in order to please him and those who were with him, he promised Salome - with an oath - that he would give her anything she asked, even unto half of his kingdom. Salome consulted with her mother and returned to Herod and asked for the head of John the Baptist on a plate. He fulfilled this godless promise and filled his loathsome banquet with the blood of the Prophet. The body of the divine Baptist was taken up by his disciples and placed in a tomb. (Mark 6-21-29). The Beheading of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John is commemorated on August 29 and is a strict fast day.

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Venerable Herman of Alaska

Venerable Herman of Alaska Wonderworker of all America - "Joyful north star of the Church of Christ, Guiding all men to the Heavenly Kingdom; Teacher and apostle of the true faith; Intercessor and defender of the oppressed. Adornment of the Orthodox Church in America, Blessed Father Herman...