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On January 7 in the Holy Orthodox Church, we celebrate the Synaxis (Gathering) of the holy and glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John. On the same day is also commemorated the translation of his most precious and holy right hand unto the city of Constantinople.

Because John’s main role in his life was played out on the day of Theophany (Epiphany), the Church from earliest times dedicated the “day after” to his memory.  Among the Gospel personalities who surround the Savior, John the Baptist occupies a totally unique place by his roles in baptizing the Messiah and in baptizing people for repentance.  John prepared himself in the wilderness of the desert for 30 years for his great service by a strict life, by fasting, prayer and sympathy for the fate of God’s people.  John was of such moral purity that, in truth, he could be called an angel (messenger) as Holy Scripture calls him rather than a mortal man.  He appeared on the banks of the Jordan, to prepare the people by his preaching to accept the Savior of the world.  In church hymnology, the Baptist is called a “bright morning star,” whose gleaming outshone the brilliance of all the other stars, announcing the coming dawn of the day of grace, illumined with the light of the spiritual Sun, our Lord Jesus Christ.  John differs from all other prophets especially in that he had that privilege of being able, with his hand, to show the world Him about Whom he prophesied.  As the holy Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord—whom the Lord called the greatest of the prophets—John concludes the history of the Old Testament and opens the era of the New Testament.  He bore witness to the Only-Begotten Son of God, incarnate in the flesh.  John was accounted worthy to baptize Him in the waters of the Jordan, and he was a witness of the Theophany of the Most Holy Trinity at the Savior’s Baptism.

By the intercessions of Thy Forerunner, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
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