John preaches and baptizes in the desert

Illustration by Linda Jeanne Rivers


A man named John the Baptist appeared in the desert.

He wore a leather belt and clothes made of camel’s hair, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

John’s appearance was not a surprise. It had been foretold by the prophet Isaiah:

“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’”

When John appeared in the desert, he began to proclaim a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

People residing in the city of Jerusalem and those living all over the Judean countryside heard about John. They visited John in the desert to be baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.

“One mightier than I is coming after me,” John told the people. “I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

One day, Jesus came to the desert from Nazareth in Galilee. He also wanted to be baptized by John.

When Jesus came up out of the Jordan River after John had baptized him, he saw the heavens being torn open.

The Holy Spirit, like a dove, descended upon Jesus.

“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased,” a voice from heaven said.

After his baptism, Jesus was driven into the desert by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus remained in the desert for 40 days. There, he was among the wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. He also was tempted by Satan during that time.

After John had been arrested for his preaching, Jesus began his public ministry. He came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God.

“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel,” Jesus said.

He then began to call his first apostles.

The first two men he called were the brothers Simon and Andrew. Jesus saw them as they were casting their nets into the sea.

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men,” Jesus told them.

Simon and Andrew abandoned their nets and followed Jesus.


Mark 1


  1. Who proclaimed a baptism of repentance?
  2. Who would baptize with the Holy Spirit?

ESSAY: Why is it good to repent of your sins?


When we hear the name Gabriel, we recall how this messenger angel visited Mary to announce that she would become the mother of Jesus.

But before he visited Mary, Gabriel delivered a special message about another baby who was to be born.

In Luke 1:5-25, we read about a priest named Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth. They did not have children, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were advanced in years.

Both were righteous in God’s eyes, because they observed all of his commandments and ordinances.

One day, Zechariah entered the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense when Gabriel appeared to him.

“Your prayer has been heard,” Gabriel told Zechariah. “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.”

Since Zechariah knew the reasons why he and Elizabeth didn’t have children, he did not believe what the angel told him.

Gabriel did not appreciate Zechariah’s doubt, so he made it so Zechariah couldn’t talk until after the baby was born.

Zechariah fulfilled his priestly duties and then returned home. Not long after, Elizabeth became pregnant, just as Gabriel had said.

The time finally came for Elizabeth to have her baby. She gave birth to a boy whom she and Zechariah named John.

We know him by the name John the Baptist.


St. Dominic of Silos 

St. Dominic of Silos was born in Navarre, Spain, in 1000. When he was young, he tended sheep near the Pyrenees mountains and learned to enjoy being alone.

Dominic became a monk and was eventually named the prior of his monastery. But he had to flee to a monastery in Silos after the king of Navarre seized his monastery’s land.

He became prior of his new monastery, where he conducted a successful program of spiritual renewal.

Dominic died in 1073, and we honor him on Dec. 20.


Using the hints provided, put a T next to the sentences about John the Baptist that are true and an F next to the ones that are false.

  1. ___ John called the people coming to him a flock of sheep. (Luke 3:7)
  2. ___ John baptized people in the Red Sea. (Matthew 3:6)
  3. ___ John said God could raise up children to Abraham from stones. (Luke 3:8)
  4. ___ John called Jesus the Lamb of God. (John 1:36)

Answers: 1. F; 2. F; 3. T; 4. T

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