On the celebration day of Saint John the Baptist the Prophet, His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romania was present at the Icon church of Bucharest which celebrated its saint patron. After the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, His Beatitude delivered a sermon in which he showed the significance of the feast of the day.
To start with the speech, the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church explained why the feast of the day is named Synaxis of Saint John the Baptist: “After the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, the Christians gather together and remember Saint John the Baptist, through whom the baptism of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, was celebrated. Jesus Christ, our Saviour, calls Saint John the Baptist the greatest man born by a woman. This is why our Church included several days in the calendar for celebrating and remembering Saint John the Baptist. We have 7 days of remembrance, 3 of them with red cross, namely: “Synaxis of Saint John the Baptist on 7 January, Birth of Saint John the Baptist on 24 June, and Beheading of Saint John the Baptist on 29 August. The other 4 remembrance days are listed with black cross because they are smaller feasts: Conception of Saint John the Baptist on 23 September, the First and Second finding of Saint John the Baptist on 24 February, and the Third finding of the Head of Saint John the Baptist on 25 May”.
The Patriarch of Romania spoke about the life and activity of Saint John the Baptist: “In our Church, Saint John the Baptist always appears on the iconostasis in the Deisis icon of the last judgement, on the left side of the Saviour, but if we do not have this icon, he is in one of the main icons on the iconostasis. Saint John the Baptist is the most popular saint, namely the Holy Scriptures pay him special heed. His birth and activity were foretold by the prophets. His birth was a gift of God because the parents of Saint John the Baptist, priest Zachariah and his wife Elisabeth had no children and were very sad. They prayed God a lot to give them a child. One day, while he was celebrating at the Temple of Jerusalem, an angel of God announced him that he would have a child whom he would name John. He doubted and asked for a sign. This is why the sign was the fact that he could no longer talk till the day the child was born. When the child was born and they all wanted to give him a name priest Zachariah asked for a tablet on which he wrote the name John. Thus, Saint John the Baptist was born somehow in a wonderful way through this work of God. After the name of the child was chosen as John, his father, priest Zachariah, prophesised that he would be a servant of God and would prepare His way. After the child was born, a hard period followed. Herod commanded that all children less than two should be killed, the child of priest Zachariah and of his wife Elisabeth having been wanted too. Because of this persecution Elisabeth took the child and hid in the mountains of Judaea to save him. After a time Elisabeth died and the child remained alone, so that all his youth he lived in the wilderness, in prayer and fasting, and eating very simple food. Thus, Saint John the Baptist is formed at the school of wilderness, prayer and fasting. He was wearing clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist and spent his life rather praying and fasting. When aged 30 God sent him to preach repentance in the Jordan wilderness. He called all people to repent and they came to him from all over Judaea and Jerusalem. Many of them were listening to his sermons and they were baptised with the baptism of repentance’.