June 24 The Nativity of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

Bulletin as of June 23 2024

The Gospel (Luke 1:5) relates that the righteous parents of St. John the Baptist, the priest Zechariah and Elizabeth, lived in the ancient city of Hebron. They reached old age without having children, since Elizabeth was barren. Once, St. Zechariah was serving in the Temple of Jerusalem when he saw the Archangel Gabriel. The angel predicted that St. Zechariah would father a son, who would announce the Savior, the Messiah, awaited by the Old Testament Church. St. Elizabeth came to be with child, and fearing derision at being pregnant so late in life, she kept it secret for five months. Then her relative, the Virgin Mary, came to share her own joy. Elizabeth, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” was the first to greet the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God. St. John leapt in his mother’s womb at the visit of the Most Holy Virgin Mary and the Son of God incarnate within her. Soon St. Elizabeth gave birth to a son. On the eighth day, in accordance with the Law of Moses, he was circumcised and was called John. 


Prophet and forerunner of the coming of Christ, although we honor you with love, we cannot give you worthy praise. Through your glorious and holy birth, your mother was freed from barrenness and your father from his loss of speech, and the incarnation of the Son of God is proclaimed to the world. 


Today, she who once was barren gives birth to Christ’s forerunner. He himself is the fulfillment of all prophecy; for in the Jordan, he imposed his hand upon the Word of God whom the prophets have foretold and was shown to be his prophet, herald and forerunner.

Readings for the feast


Romans 13:11b thru 14:4

Brothers and sisters: It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep, for our salvation is closer than when we first accepted the faith. The night is far spent; the day draws near. Let us cast off deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us live honorably as in daylight; not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. 

Extend a kind of welcome to those who are weak in faith. Do not enter into disputes with them. A man of sound faith knows he can eat anything, while one who is weak in faith eats only vegetables. The man who will eat anything must not ridicule him who abstains from certain foods; the man who abstains must not sit in judgment on him who eats. After all, God himself has made him welcome. Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant? His master alone can judge whether he stands or falls. And stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 


Luke 1: 5-25, 57-68, 76-80

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly order of Abijah; his wife, Elizabeth, was a descendant of Aaron. Both were just in the eyes of God, blamelessly following all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. They were childless, for Elizabeth was sterile; moreover, both were advanced in years.

Once, when it was the turn of Zechariah’s class and he was fulfilling his functions as a priest before God, it fell to him by lot according to priestly usage to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. While the full assembly of people was praying outside at the incense hour, an angel of the Lord appeared to Him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was deeply disturbed upon seeing him, and overcome with fear. 

The angel said to him: “Do not be frightened, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth shall bear a son who you shall name John. Joy and gladness will be yours, many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He will never drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb. Many of the sons of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. God himself will go before him, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers and their children and the rebellious to the wisdom of the just, and to prepare for the Lord a people well-disposed.”

Zechariah said to the angel: “How am I to know this? I am an old man; my wife is too advanced in age.” The angel replied: “I am Gabriel, who stand in attendance before God. I was sent to speak to you and bring this good news. But now you will be mute–unable to speak–until the day these things take place, because you have not trusted my words. They will all come true in due season.” Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, wondering at his delay in the temple. When he finally came out he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision inside. He kept making signs to them, for he remained speechless.

Then, when his time of priestly service was over, he went home. Afterward, his wife Elizabeth conceived. She went into seclusion for five months, saying, “In these days the Lord is acting on my behalf; he has seen fit to remove my reproach among men.”

When Elizabeth’s time for delivery arrived, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives, upon hearing that the Lord has extended his mercy to her, rejoiced with her. When they assembled for the circumcision of the child on the eighth day, they intended to name him after his father Zechariah. At this his mother intervened, saying: “No, he is to be called John.” 

They pointed out to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” Then, using signs, they asked the father what he wished him to be called. He signaled for a writing tablet and wrote the words, “His name is John.” This astonished them all. At that moment his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God. 

Fear descended on all in the neighborhood; throughout the hill country of Judea these happenings began to be recounted to the last detail. All who heard stored these things up in their hearts, saying, “What will this child be?” and, “Was not the hand of the Lord upon him?”

Then Zechariah, his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, uttered the prophecy, “Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel because he has visited and ransomed his people. And you, O child, shall be called prophet of the Most High; for you shall go before the Lord and prepare straight paths for him, giving his people a knowledge of salvation in freedom from their sins. All this is the work of the kindness of our God; he, the Dayspring, shall visit us in his mercy to shine on those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

The child grew up and matured in spirit. He lived in the desert until the day when he made his public appearance in Israel. 

Readings for the day


Romans 16: 17-27

Brothers and sisters, I beg you to be on the watch against those who cause dissension and scandal, contrary to the teachings you have received. Avoid their company. Some men serve, not Christ our Lord, but their own bellies, and they deceive the simpleminded with smooth and flattering speech. Your obedience is known to all, and so I am delighted with you. I want you to be wise in regard to what is good and innocent of all evil. Then the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Timothy, my fellow worker, sends you his greetings; so, too, do my kinsmen Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater. I, Tertius, who have written this letter, send you my greetings in the Lord. Greetings also from Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus wish to be remembered to you. 

Now to him who is able to strengthen you in the gospel which I proclaim when I preach Jesus Christ, the gospel which reveals the mystery hidden for many ages but now manifested through the writings of the prophets, and, at the command of the eternal God, made known to all the Gentiles that they may believe and obey – to him, the God who alone is wise, may glory be given through Jesus Christ into endless ages. Amen. 


Matthew 13: 10-23

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked him, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He answered: “To you has been given a knowledge of the mysteries of the reign of God, but it has not been given to the others. To the man who has, more will be given until he grows rich; the man who has not, will lose what little he has.

“I use parables when I speak to them because they look but do not see, they listen but do not hear or understand. Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them which says: ‘Listen as you will, you shall not understand, look intently as you will, you will not see. Sluggish indeed is this people’s heart. They have scarcely heard with their ears, they have firmly closed their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn back to me, and I should heal them.’

(Jesus continued) “But blest are your eyes because they see and blest are your ears because they hear. I assure you, many a prophet and many a saint longed to see what you see but did not see it, to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

“Mark well, then, the parable of the sower. The seed along the path is the man who hears the message about God’s reign without understanding it. The evil one approaches him to steal away what was sown in his mind, .The seed that fell on patches of rock is the man who hears the message and at first receives it with joy. But he has no roots, so he lasts only for a time. When some setback or persecution involving the message occurs, he soon falters. What was sown among briers is the man who hears the message, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of money choke it off. Such a one produces no yield. But what was sown on good soil is the man who hears the message and takes it in. He it is who bears a yield of a hundred- or sixty – or thirtyfold.” 

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

Sunday, June 23 –

  • 5:07 PM