Sunday, October 30, 2005

Saint John the Forerunner

The memory of the just is mentioned with praise. As for you, O Forerunner, the Lord's witness is enough: indeed, you were greater than the prophets since you were found worthy to baptize in the waters the one they could but announce. You have fought for the sake of truth and proclaimed to those in hades that God who appeared in the flesh has taken away the sins of the world and bestowed his great mercy upon us.
John was the son of Zachariah, a Temple priest, and his wife, Elizabeth, the cousin of the Theotokos. He was born when his parents were advanced in years, after a prophecy by an angel. He lived an ascetical life in the wilderness as an Old Testament Prophet, and he preached a message of repentance and of preparation for the coming of the Messiah and his Kingdom. He himself baptized Christ in the Jordan River and proclaimed Him as the Messiah. John was imprisoned for denouncing the incestuous union of Herod Antipas with Herodias. When Salome', Herodias' daughter, greatly pleased Herod with her dancing, he promised to give her whatever she wanted. Prompted by her mother, she demanded the head of St. John on a platter. He was immediately executed. He is portrayed with wings to symbolize that he was a special messenger. His banner reads: "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!"

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