The birth of John the Baptist was one of the earliest feasts to be named to a particular day on the Church calendar. June 24 was chosen as it is six months before the birth of Christ. With its proximity to the summer solstice, it signifies the waning of the light, while the birth of Jesus near the winter solstice marks the coming of the light. When John was born, his parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, called him John in accordance with an angel’s instruction. In disbelief that they would have a son, Zechariah asked for a sign and was made mute, but with the giving of the name, his speech was restored. Luke records that he responded with the Benedictus, the great hymn of love and thanksgiving still recited in the liturgy of the hours.
This celebration dates back to about the 4th century. Because his name is Greek, it is assumed Stephen was a Jew of the diaspora (Jewish communities outside Israel) who had resettled in Jerusalem. Stephen is the first-named among the seven deacons chosen to minister to Greek-speaking Christians in Jerusalem at the very dawn of the Christian church. He is ...More
Also known as John the Divine, the apostle John was the son of Zebedee and the brother of James, and a fisherman. John was very close to Jesus and was present at the Transfiguration, the raising of Jairus’ daughter and the Agony in the Garden. John is the “beloved disciple” referred to in the gospels. While ancient ...More
The ‘Holy Infants’ are the male children recorded slain by King Herod in Matthew’s Gospel. This unique episode in Jesus’ life is not found in any other document, secular or religious, yet this incident, along with the account of the flight into Egypt, presents the ancient tradition of the early Church: Jesus as the ‘...More