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14 January 2020y. Tuesday
Feast of the Birth of St. John the Forerunner (Baptist)

id299Six months before Annunciation, archangel Gabriel was sent to a pious priest by the name of Zacharias, who served in the Temple of Jerusalem. Gabriel revealed to Zacharias that the latter would give birth to a son named John, who would be the forerunner of the Saviour.
Zacharias doubted the angel, because he and his wife were old. For his doubt, he was punished - he became mute until the day this prophecy was fulfilled.
When the child was born as promised and taken to the Temple on the eighth day to be circumcised, a miracle took place and Zacharias regained his speech. Uttering praise to God, he prophesied the imminent coming of the Messiah. News of this event soon spread all over Judea and many spoke with reverence about the expected child and his divine calling.
John, losing his parents at a young age, retired into wilderness, where he led a life of a hermit in a distant cave. He wore a garb made of camel hair with a leather belt around his waist and ate locust and wild honey.

St. John the Baptist (marginal headings)
Jerusalem, man. No 2563, Gospel of Queen Keran, 1272.

At thirty years of age, he was instructed by God to go to the valley of Jordan and minister to people. “Repent, - he said, - for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” [Matthew 3:2]. Reproaching the lawless, he warned, that if they did not repent and yield good fruits, they would soon die, as the time of retribution was near. Many, yielding to his call, repented, and John baptized them in the Jordan as a sign of renewal.
In those days Jesus too came to the Jordan along with others to be baptized by John [see Epiphany]. St. John fulfilled his predestination, preparing a path for the Lord, accepting and declaring Him a Son of God. He rejoiced testifying of the Lord and foretold his own imminent demise. St. John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod, ruler of Galilee, who he reproached for unlawful marriage.
Being the greatest of the prophets who foretold of Saviour’s coming, he preceded Christ, who Himself said of John: “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” [Matthew 11:11].