Under the title of the Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Virgin is the patron of the United States. Thus this is a major feast--in fact a Holy Day of Obligation--for the Church in the United States of America.
Almost nothing is known about Lazarus of Bethany, who plays an important role in the Gospel of Saint John. There we are told that he was a personal friend of Jesus. Many legends exist about Lazarus’ later life.
The martyrdom of John the Baptist is one of the most gruesome stories in the New Testament. Yet it is the story of the victory of faith and loyalty over cowardice and hate. A king makes a careless promise and does not have the courage or integrity to do the right thing when his jealous wife takes advantage. This is one of those blunt stories of what living faithfully is all about.
Saint Paul tells us in his Letter to the Philippians that Jesus’ name is above every other name. It is the name in which we are all saved. Devotion to the Most Holy Name of Jesus is deeply rooted in Christian history.
This feast is a counterpart to the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus: both have the possibility of uniting people easily divided on other matters. Mary encourages us to cooperate with Jesus in building a peace based on justice.
Saint John the Baptist is one of the few saints who have two feast days. Today we celebrate his birth, which Saint Luke narrates in his Gospel. There Luke draws a parallel between the births of Jesus and John, pointing out the important role in the history of salvation that John the Baptist would play.
Affirming the humanity of Jesus, the Church celebrates the birth of Mary, his mother. While Scripture does not record the birth of Mary, the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James notes the development of Christian piety around Mary's parents and her birth.
All feast days celebrate, in one way or another, the gifts of God granted to us human beings. Today we celebrate THE gift─the Son of God made flesh. A gift granted to all people of all times and places. Truly we have been gifted.
Like the apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes, this appearance was not given to Church officials, but to children. Through them, Mary requested that the Church spread devotion to the rosary to all the faithful.