We don't typically celebrate a saint's birthday in the church. We usually celebrate the day of his or her death. Most feast days are when we think the particular saint died or was martyred. Birthday celebrations are reserved for Jesus (Christmas) and Mary (September 8th).
And for Saint John the Baptist.
Yes, today, June 24th, the Church celebrates the “Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist.” Even though it falls on a Sunday this year, we still celebrate it. As if it were Christmas, the Baptist's Birthday trumps the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, which would have been this weekend.
We do indeed celebrate John's death (August 29th), but so important is John the Baptist that we also celebrate his birth. He is one of the few saints who receive multiple feast days: Joseph, Peter, Paul, and Mary.
John the Baptist's birth is six months after the birth of his cousin, Jesus Christ. Christ's birthday is around the winter solstice, when days begin to grow longer. The Baptist's birthday is around the summer solstice, when days begin to grow shorter. “He must increase, I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).
It is thought we celebrate John's earthly birthday because he was born without original sin. John was baptized in his mother, Elizabeth's womb when Mary visited her cousin (cf. Lk 1:39-45). The infant “leaps” in Elizabeth's womb. He has encountered the Savior of the World in Mary's womb, and received grace from that. Thus, when John is born, he has already been baptized and is free from sin. (Mary was conceived without sin, and Jesus, of course, being God, had no sin ever.)
Every person and future saint is born with original sin. On the day of the saint's death, his/her birthday unto eternal life, the person is made forever immaculate. John, Mary, and Jesus were immaculate on their earthly birthday, hence our celebrations.
The name John translated means, ‘in whom is grace.’ John is a graced person not just because he came forth from his mother's womb free from sin. He is graced because his whole life is focused on the Lord Jesus Christ. John's very existence, his purpose, is to prepare for Jesus.
John does not live for himself. In living for Jesus, John is fulfilled. He is a model for us. That is why we celebrate the nativity of St. John the Baptist.
Though parish meetings and school activities are in summer hibernation, we're still busy here, particularly with construction projects. The school elevator and courtyard project is well underway. In addition to the three-story elevator, we are installing a playground within the courtyard. Both of these items will be attractive features for St. Juliana School, allowing us to not just remain competitive, but to advance. In addition, the courtyard will be accessible to the parish, as we will have a prayer garden and area for socials. As always, I will do my best to keep you informed on the progress of the project.
In regards to church projects, we are currently working on the new men's restroom facility, which will be located in part of the old cry room. We have also picked new carpet for the church and will be installing that in the upcoming weeks.
Finally, we have renovated the old "lounge" meeting room in the parish center. A large board room table, nearly 40 state-of-the-art chairs, couches, a 65" flat screen TV for the wall, and a few other items were all generously donated to us. This is more than $15,000 worth of furniture! Please take a look at the new lounge next time you are over here!
Registration for the Men's Club Golf Outing on Saturday, August 18th is open. The day is very fun, and the golf outing committee has been hard at work to plan it. Please sign up if you haven't already!
Yours in Christ,