Domenico Ghirlandaio, Birth of St. John the Baptist
Today is the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.
St. John the Baptist is the Lord's immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way. "Prophet of the Most High", John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last. He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother's womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being "the friend of the bridegroom", whom he points out as "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". Going before Jesus "in the spirit and power of Elijah", John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom.
Deus, qui praesentem diem honorabilem nobis in beati Joannis nativitate fecisti: da populis tuis spiritualium gratiam gaudiorum; et omnium fidelium mentes dirige in viam salutis aeternae.
Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
O God, Who hast made this day to be honourable in our eyes because of the Birth of the blessed John, graciously quicken thy people with spiritual joy, and order the minds of all the faithful in the way of everlasting salvation.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.