Today, Saint John’s Day is celebrated all over the world, wherever there are Christians.
This biblical figure who played a very important role in the life of Jesus.
There is a close relationship between these two figures, one the precursor and the other the Messiah, and the birth of both was announced by an angel. Another similarity is Mary’s visit to Elizabeth with a twitch in her womb, and her father Zechariah, who was able to recover the ability to speak at the circumcision of John the Baptist. It is written in Luke’s Gospel chapter 1, verse 64: “Immediately his mouth and his tongue were loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.’
The Bible tells us that John lived in the wilderness for a long time, he wore a camel-skin garment and a leather belt around his waist, and he ate grasshoppers and wild honey. Why was he dressed like that, why did he eat like that?
He announced the baptism of repentance and baptized people, and again their path crossed with the baptism of Jesus and all the manifestations we know about it. Another fact that has marked the history of this character is the condition in which he died. These events took place a long time ago.
Today, people have made St. John’s Day, June 24th, a mysterious day. Here in Quebec, it’s a national holiday. Why this day? The secret society of Freemasons made this day their holiday. Why St. John’s Day? In Haiti, the vodourians show a great interest around Saint John’s Day. We have already heard about the Saint John fires here in Quebec; they, too, use fire to purify themselves. They wear the same attire that John the Baptist wore; animal skins and leather belts.
Another very common practice in Haiti, especially among young girls, is to read their future on St. John’s Day: a glass filled with water with an egg white inside, and the reading is done at noon. If the egg white draws a boat it means a journey; a church, a wedding; a coffin, death. So many mysteries around this day. Countless are the manifestations around the churches that bear the name of St. John the Baptist. And probably there are other mysteries around this day elsewhere.
Today you and I as Christians will to remember the work of John the Baptist, who practiced the baptism of repentance. I am not asking you to go to the banks of the St. Lawrence River or the Lachine Canal; but we can always preach repentance through our conduct, our way of seeing others and especially our human relationship.
May God bless you. By the way, today is my birthday. June 24th. Why this day?
— Jean Robert Bellarmin
Image: The baptism of Christ by John the Baptist, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Port-au-Prince, Haiti