Feb. 24 The First and Second Finding of the Head of the Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John

Bulletin as of February 23 2024

The great and glorious Baptist John was beheaded at the wish and instigation of the wicked Herodias, the wife of Herod. When John was beheaded, Herodias ordered that his head not be buried with his body, for she feared that this awesome prophet would somehow resurrect. Therefore, she took his head and buried it deep in the ground in a secluded and dishonorable place. Her maidservant was Joanna, the wife of Chuza, a courtier of Herod. The good and devout Johanna could not tolerate that the head of the man of God should remain in this dishonorable place. She secretly unearthed it, took it to Jerusalem and buried it on the Mount of Olives. After a considerable period of time, an eminent land owner came to faith in Christ, left his position and the vanity of the world and became a monk, taking the name Innocent. As a monk, he took up his abode of the Mount of Olives, in the exact place where the head of the Baptist was buried. Wanting to build a cell for himself, he dug deeply and discovered an earthen vessel containing a head, which was mysteriously revealed to him to be the head of the Baptist. He reverenced it and re-buried it in the same spot. Later, according to God‘s providence, this miracle-working head traveled from place to place, then sank into the darkness of forgetfulness and was again re-discovered. Finally, at the time of Patriarch Ignatius, during the reign of the pious Empress Theodora, it was translated to Constantinople. 



The head of the forerunner arose from the earth like a star, sending out rays of healing and immortality. In heaven, it gathers together the choirs of angels, while on earth, it assembles the human race in a single voice to sing the glory of Christ our God.



O prophet of God and forerunner of grace, within the earth we have discovered your head, a rose of great holiness from which healing always comes to us. As you did of old, now also preach repentance to the world.



2 Corinthians 4: 6-15

Brothers and sisters: God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts, that we in turn might make known the glory of God shining on the face of Christ. This treasure we possess in earthen vessels to make it clear that its surpassing power comes from God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way possible, but we are not crushed; full of doubts, we never despair. We are persecuted but never abandoned; we are struck down but never destroyed. Continually, we carry about in our bodies the dying of Jesus, so that in our bodies the life of Jesus may also be revealed. While we live we are constantly being delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal flesh. Death is at work in us, but life in you. We have that spirit of faith of which the Scripture says, “Because I believed, I spoke out.” We believe and so we speak, knowing that he who raised up the Lord Jesus will raise us up along with Jesus and place both of us and you in his presence. Indeed, everything is ordered to your benefit, so that the grace bestowed in abundance may bring greater glory to God because they who give thanks are many.  



Matthew 11: 2-15

At that time when John, in prison, heard about the works Christ was performing, he sent a message by his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you ‘He who is to come’ or do we look for another?” In reply, Jesus said to them: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind recover their sight, cripples walk, lepers are cured, the deaf hear, dead men are raised to life, and the poor have good news preached to them. Blest is the man who finds no stumbling block in me.”

As the messengers set off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out to the wasteland to see – a reed swaying in the wind? Tell me, what did you go out to see– someone luxuriously dressed? Remember, those who dress luxuriously are to be found in royal palaces. Why then did you go out – to see a prophet? A prophet indeed, and something more! It is about this man that Scripture says, ‘I send my messenger ahead of you to prepare your way before you.’

I solemnly assure you, history has not known a man born of a woman greater than John the Baptizer. Yet the least born into the kingdom of God is greater than he. From John the Baptizer’s time until now the kingdom of God has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. All the prophets as well as the law spoke prophetically about John. If you are prepared to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who was certain to come. Heed carefully what you hear!” 


Readings for the day


Hebrews 3: 12-16

Brothers and sisters, take care lest any of you have an evil and unfaithful spirit and fall away from the living God. Encourage one another daily while it is still “today,” so that no one grows hardened by the deceit of sin. We have become partners of Christ only if we maintain to the end that confidence with which we began. When Scripture says, “Today, if you should hear his voice, harden not your hearts as at the revolt,” who were those who revolted when they heard that voice? Was it not all whom Moses had led out of Egypt?

Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com

Friday, February 23 –

  • 5:00 PM