Feast day: June 24
Gospel According Luke 1: 57 - 66, 80
Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son.
And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.
And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechari'ah after his father, but his mother said, "Not so; he shall be called John."
And they said to her, "None of your kindred is called by this name."
And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called.
And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, "His name is John." And they all marveled.
And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.
And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea;
and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, "What then will this child be?" For the hand of the Lord was with him.
And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.
The Gospel of the Lord.
John the Baptist was the son of Zachary, a priest of the Temple in Jerusalem, and Elizabeth, a kinswoman of Mary who visited her. He was probably born at Ain-Karim southwest of Jerusalem after the Angel Gabriel had told Zachary that his wife would bear a child even though she was an old woman. He lived as a hermit in the desert of Judea until about A.D. 27. When he was thirty, he began to preach on the banks of the Jordan against the evils of the times and called men to penance and baptism "for the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand". He attracted large crowds, and when Christ came to him, John recognized Him as the Messiah and baptized Him, saying, "It is I who need baptism from You". When Christ left to preach in Galilee, John continued preaching in the Jordan valley. Fearful of his great power with the people, Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Perea and Galilee, had him arrested and imprisoned at Machaerus Fortress on the Dead Sea when John denounced his adultrous and incestuous marriage with Herodias, wife of his half brother Philip. John was beheaded at the request of Salome, daughter of Herodias, who asked for his head at the instigation of her mother. John inspired many of his followers to follow Christ when he designated Him "the Lamb of God," among them Andrew and John, who came to know Christ through John's preaching. John is presented in the New Testament as the last of the Old Testament prophets and the precursor of the Messiah. His feast day is June 24th and the feast for his beheading is August 29th.