St. John the Baptist and the Grace of Baptism
June 24th Readings Reflection: Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. The liturgical observance of a saint’s birthday is quite rare in the Catholic Church, occurring only twice each year: the Nativity of St. John the Baptist and the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is because both St. John the Baptist and Our Lady were born without Original Sin on their souls.
Our Lady was free from Original Sin since the moment of her conception, but St. John the Baptist possessed Original Sin on his soul for the first several months of his prenatal existence. When Mary greeted her cousin Elizabeth at the Visitation, the Holy Spirit cleansed St. John the Baptist’s soul in his mother’s womb. The prophet was thus given a unique kind of Baptism, whereby God began preparing him for his special mission: to prepare the way of the Lord and announce Christ’s coming.
At St. John the Baptist’s birth, his soul was not dead in sin but rather alive and filled with grace. This is an amazing gift from God that shows the great importance of infant Baptism. While the rest of us are all born with Original Sin on our souls, the Church’s practice of baptizing infants means that we are able to receive the life of grace from the earliest moments of our lives after birth.
Receiving God’s grace in the womb uniquely prepared St. John the Baptist for his important mission of preparing men for Christ’s coming on earth. We each have our own vocation to which God has called us. This vocation not only pertains to our state in life (married, religious, or single) but also to the particular work that we are called to do throughout our lives. We are called to live our lives for the glory of God and win souls for Christ, but we cannot do this without His grace working within us. May St. John the Baptist pray for us as we strive to live our vocations faithfully and lead others to Christ, His Church, and the saving waters of Baptism.