Saint John the Baptist is painted in the “Deisis” icon of the Last Judgement praying together with the Mother of God for those who repented, but had no time to show their repentant deeds because they passed away, the Patriarch of Romania said. Monday, 29 August 2016, feast of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, His Beatitude celebrated the Divine Liturgy on the dedication day of the Summer Altar in the precincts of the Patriarchal Residence.
His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel explained in the sermon delivered why this day is a fasting day. He has also underlined the fact that the Prophet has five celebration days in the Christian Orthodox calendar.
This commemoration day of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist is the last feast of the Church Year. It is a sad day, of strict fasting. The Church scheduled this day as a fasting one in order to remind us that the lack of restrain from passions and greed caused the death of Saint John the Baptist. The prophet is called in our liturgical books Saint Glorified Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord. He has five days of celebration in the calendar, three of them in red letters: 7 January, 24 June and 29 August, the Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church said.
The preacher of repentance will pray together with the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord, at the Last Judgement, the Patriarch of Romania has also emphasised.
Saint John the Baptist preached “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”. Thus, he asked human beings to change their thought, living, and acting. Concretely, he said: “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same”. Saint John the Baptist preached repentance as a social change, improvement, spiritualisation of the relationship among people based on the faith in God. This is why he is the great teacher of repentance and painted in the “Deisis” icon of the Last Judgement praying together with the Mother of God for those who repented, but had no time to show their deeds of repentance because they passed away.
The Prophet lived a harsh life, lived in the wilderness of Jordan and ate wild honey and locusts. He lived in prayer everything he was preaching, through ascesis, in quite an ordinary life, but very attentive to the words of the Lord and to His mission to announce the coming close of the Kingdom of God because Christ, King of centuries, calls the human beings to the Kingdom of the Heavenly Father, by becoming human among humans.
This is why, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel says, Saint John the Baptist opens the perspective of salvation through repentance. Jesus Christ, our Saviour, begins the preaching of the Gospel with the same words: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”.
Jesus Christ, our Lord, and the last prophet of the Old Testament were related.
The parents of John the Baptist were priest Zachariah and his wife Elisabeth. Elisabeth was the Mother of God’s cousin. This is why Elisabeth and the Mother of God are evoked in the Gospel. Saint John the Baptist was born six months before Jesus Christ, our Saviour’s birth. Because he spent all his childhood and youth in wilderness he had no relations with Jesus, Mary’s son, but only towards the end of his life, when he showed Him to the people gathered at Jordan and said that He was the Son and Lamb of God who took the sins of the world. This mysterious relationship shows us that whatever Saint John the Baptist said was inspired by God. God told him that that man was the Son of God. This confession of Saint John the Baptist makes him prophet and venerated most respectfully in the Church, His Beatitude explained.
The Saint also represents the passage from the Old to the New Testament, as well as a foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Church scheduled the feast of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist in the last month of the church year just to make us remember the last things of history, namely its end, the resurrection of the dead and the Last Judgement, at Christ’s second coming, in full glory, when He will have the Mother of God on His right side and Saint John the Baptist on His left side, and will judge the world together with the 12 Apostles. The Church scheduled the celebration of Saint John the Baptist several times, and especially on this day, because he represents the passage between the Old and the New Testaments, as well as a foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Saint urges us too today to confess the faith in Jesus, Son of God, accept His will, repent for our sins, do good deeds for the glory of God and our salvation, the Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church concluded.
Saint John the Baptist is the protector of the Summer Altar of the Patriarchal Residence. The Altar was consecrated in 2010.