On June 24 in the Holy Orthodox Church we celebrate the Nativity of the venerable and glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John.
Six months before his appearance in Nazareth to the All-holy Virgin Mary, the great archangel of God, Gabriel, appeared to Zacharias the high priest in the Temple at Jerusalem. Before he announced the miraculous conception to the unwed Virgin Mary, the archangel announced the miraculous conception to the childless old woman Elizabeth. Zacharias did not immediately believe the words of the herald of God and this is why his tongue was tied with dumbness and remained as such until eight days after the birth of John. On that day, the relatives of Zacharias and Elizabeth gathered for the young child’s circumcision and for the sake of giving him a name. When they asked the father what name he wishes to give to his son and being dumb, he wrote on a tablet: “John.” At that moment he could speak again. Herod heard of this news and sent soldiers to slay the children throughout Bethlehem, including the Forerunner. Herod’s executioners killed Zacharias between the court and the temple; his blood coagulated and petrified on the stone pavers and remained a perpetual witness against Herod. Elizabeth hid with the child in a cave where she died soon after. The young child John remained in the wilderness alone under the care of God and God’s angels.
By his intercessions, O God, have mercy on us. Amen