Saint John the Baptist, the Forerunner of the Messiah, preceded Jesus both in his birth and in his death. His way of life and his preaching closely resemble that of the prophets of the Old Testament.
St. John the Baptizer (I’m sorry, but when I say “St. John the Baptist,” I always want to ask, “Southern or American”…?), also known as the Forerunner of Our Lord, was the bridge figure between the Old and New Testaments, the prophetic tradition of Israel, looking toward the coming of the Messiah, and the proclamation that, as we Christians believe, the Messiah has indeed come, in the person of Jesus the Christ (both “Christ” and “Messiah” mean “Anointed One”).
The birth of St. John the Baptizer is celebrated on the 24th of June, and today we commemorate his death by execution – ironically, not for anything he said or did wrong (though he was in prison at the time), but because King Herod Antipas was trapped by his own promise (perhaps brought about by lust). A warning, perhaps, to be cautious about what you swear to do… and to whom you swear!
COLLECT: O God, you called John the Baptist to be in birth and death the forerunner of your Son: Grant that as John gave his life in witness to truth and righteousness, so we may fearlessly contend for the right, even unto the end; through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.