On the Nativity of St John the Baptist, Patriarch Daniel has urged faithful to pray to God for granting us good children. In his homily delivered on this feast day, His Beatitude advised parents to avoid killing babies through abortion and to consider them gifts from God.
Giving birth to babies is a great gift from God, the patriarch noted in his homily delivered June 24 during the Divine Liturgy celebrated at the St John outer altar of the patriarchal residence. He reflected on the fact that Zacharias and Elisabeth have prayed all their life for a child, and being in old age they were blessed by God with a baby.
Their advanced age has demonstrated that the grace of God exceeds the laws of nature. Since the birth of St John the Baptist is the response to his parents’ prayer, humility and strong faith, the patriarch urged the families without children to pray long in order to receive children.
His Beatitude reflected on the significance of the name of John, noting that in Hebrew it means the Lord is gracious and has referred to the mercy or the grace of God shown through the birth of St John.
He went on to recall the catechetical activity carried out by Saint John, who urged everyone to be compassionate and to give alms to the poor. After showing Jesus to the people at the Jordan River and after witnessing to His divinity, St John’s activity started to diminish. He even urged his two disciples, Andrew and Philip, to become disciples of Jesus.
The patriarch explained why the Church established the feast of the Nativity of St John the Forerunner on June 24 saying that it is connected to the summer solstice when the day length decreases. On the other hand, the Nativity of the Lord is celebrated on December 25 after the winter solstice, when day length increases. This is a symbol of the words of St John saying He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).
His Beatitude pointed to the spiritual meaning of the depiction of St John the Baptist with wings saying that it refers to the prophecy of Malachi: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1).
Patriarch Daniel concluded his speech by briefly recalling the life of Saint Nicetas of Remesiana, entitled Bishop of the Dacians by his contemporary and friend St Paulinus of Nola.
Photo by Robert Nicolae / Basilica.ro