Happy Birthday to St. John the Baptist!
The name and story of St. John the Baptist is something most cradle Catholics grow up knowing about. And, those who convert to the faith would certainly become familiar with. But, I have to admit, being in the former group, that I was not aware that St. John the Baptist was born without original sin. Before talking to Amber Miller about this I thought only Mary was born without original sin (Mary was conceived without original sin).
The story is a familiar one. Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth when Elizabeth is pregnant with John of 6 months. John leaps in his mother’s womb at the presence of Jesus within Mary because she is filled with the holy spirit (Luke 1:41).
“And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant” — filled, like the mother, with the Holy Ghost — “leaped for joy in her womb”, as if to acknowledge the presence of his Lord. Then was accomplished the prophetic utterance of the angel that the child should “be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb”. Now as the presence of any sin whatever is incompatible with the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the soul, it follows that at this moment John was cleansed from the stain of original sin.[i]
This is the reason why we are celebrating his birthday, whereas for all other saints we celebrate the day of their death, their particular heroism or the founding of their Order. And, the only other birthdays we celebrate in the Catholic Church are Jesus and Mary’s. You could add in Pentecost, as well, for the birthday of the Church.
St. John’s mission was to proclaim the coming of Christ. He is also the one who recognizes Jesus as the Messiah. For us St. John reminds us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ and to recognize Him wherever we are and the people we encounter.
A little side note: My husband’s father’s side of the family is French Canadian. St. John the Baptist is the Patron Saint of French Canada and of French Canadians. There is a holiday in Quebec for “St. Jean Baptiste day”. Unfortunately, many in Quebec have forgotten their Catholic heritage and faith.
St. John the Baptist, pray for us and for your Church in Quebec.