Monday, January 7, 2013

The Friend of the Bridegroom: St John the Baptist

In the Life of the Church, it is customary on the day following Great Feasts of the Lord and the Mother of God, to remember those saints who participated directly in the sacred event. So, on the day following the Theophany of the Lord, the Church honors the one who participated directly in the Baptism of Christ, placing his own hand upon the head of the Savior.

Baptism of our Lord
St John, the holy Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, whom the Lord called the greatest of the prophets, concludes the history of the Old Testament and opens the era of the New Testament. The holy Prophet John bore witness to the Only-Begotten Son of God, incarnate in the flesh. St John was accounted worthy to baptize Him in the waters of the Jordan, and he was a witness of the Theophany of the Most-Holy Trinity on the day of the Savior's Baptism.

"He must increase, but I must decrease": the words of St John the Baptist as quoted in Gospels (John 3:30) is a beautifully stated and essential reminder for all Christians. He is explaining to his followers the fulfillment of his ministry in proclaiming the good news of the coming of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ into the world.

Forerunner & Baptist, John
St John calls himself the "friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears Him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. "Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled" (John 3:29). What a remarkable example of the love of God and understanding of one's purpose in life!

Our Lord says of John, "For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist, but he who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he" (Luke 7:28).

I am currently reading for the second time an amazing book reflecting on the life and purpose of St John the Baptist entitled The Friend of the Bridegroom: On the Orthodox Veneration of the Forerunner by Sergius Bulgakov. I strongly encourage you to read it as well.

Through the prayers of the Forerunner, O Lord our God, have mercy upon us!

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

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