The Catholic Defender: St. John the Baptist to be the Herald of the Messiah
St. John the Baptist was born with a purpose, God ordained this purpose from the foundation of the world. We see that Isaiah foretells St. John the Baptist as the forerunner of the Messiah. Isaiah 40:1-5 states, "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: 'In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken." St. John the Baptist was the herold before the Lord. Matthew 3:1-5 states, "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.' Now John wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey." This was known before his conception. We see the same thing with the Virgin Mary.
These singular graces given to St. John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary were given for all of us. We too share in these gifts because it was meant for the whole world.
John the Baptist was born without Original Sin. He was conceived with Original Sin, but he was born free of this fallen nature.
How can this be? Luke 1:13-15 states, "But the angel said to him (Zechariah), 'Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb". Luke 1:44 states, "For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy". This fullfulls what the angel had said. At this moment, St. John the Baptist was given an infusion of Sanctifying Grace that cleansed him from the Original Sin.
This was not a baptism, but a singular grace given. This event was a preparation for St. John the Baptist to be the herald of the Messiah, the forerunner of Jesus. Another significant correlation concerning the birth of St. John the Baptist is the timeline of the fulfillment of this word and the Wise men following the Star of Bethlehem. Both those events point to the birth of Jesus Christ. September 19, 3 B.C. The Day of Atonement-Yom Kippur, the busiest Temple day of the Temple year (Luke 1:10) the Angel of the Lord appeared to Zachariah and announced the coming of John the Baptist. September 17, 3 B.C. The planet Jupiter was in conjunction with Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo-Leo the Lion. This would be the star the wise men would follow leading them to Bethlehem. They followed the star for about 16 months until the Star rested over Bethlehem for six days beginning on Dec 25, 2 B.C. March-April 2 B.C. "In the sixth month (since the announcement of John the Baptist-October 2 B.C.), the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail Full of Grace, the Lord is with you. But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom there will be no end." (Luke 1:26-22)
March-April 2:B.C. Mary hastens to visit Elizabeth who was in her sixth month of pregnancy. June (24) 2 B.C. Birth of St. John the Baptist. This sign of grace given to John was very important in God's plan of salvation. Jesus said of St. John the Baptist, "Truly, I say to you, among those born of woman there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Matthew 11:11). St. John the Baptist was the last of the Prophets of the Old Testament, he died before the reign of Christ which would begin on 3 April, 33 A.D. The death of St. John the Baptist can be found in Matthew 14:1-12.