How To Make Honey Cake
Today we are feasting with… Saint John the Baptist.
This simple, delicately sweet cake is the perfect dessert to honor this feast day.
A Leap of Joy
At the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary to inform her that she would conceive of the Holy Spirit, he also informed her that Elizabeth, her cousin, was already six months pregnant. Mary then journeyed to visit Elizabeth.
When Mary arrived at the house she greeted Elizabeth. At once, she was filled with the Holy Spirit and she cried out to Mary, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb”. She then asked “why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” She told Mary that as soon as she heard her greeting, “the child in my womb leaped for joy”. John, the Lord’s forerunner, recognized the presence of our Lord in the womb of Mary.
The Nativity of John the Baptist comes three months after the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25th, when the angel Gabriel told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy. It is also six months before the Nativity of Jesus, which we celebrate on December 25th.
Preparing the Way
Many years later, John began his public ministry. John lived as a hermit in the desert of Judea. He wore a camel hair robe which was the traditional clothing of the prophets. John also ate locusts and wild honey, which either represented his strict compliance to Jewish Purity Laws or the ascetic lifestyle of the Nazarites.
At the age of 30, he began to publicly preach on the banks of the Jordan River. John proclaimed that God’s judgement upon the world was imminent. To prepare for the coming judgement, people must repent of their sins, be baptized, and live virtuously.
One day, while John was preaching and baptizing, Jesus came from Galilee to also be baptized. John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. After Jesus was baptized, He came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, coming upon Him. A voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased.”
John became even more popular after he baptized Jesus. King Herod, the ruler of Galilee, became alarmed and ordered the arrest and imprisonment of John.
John spoke out against Herod’s marriage to Herodias. He had divorced his own wife to marry his half-brother’s divorced wife. This was illegal according to Jewish laws. John’s condemnation of Herod’s marriage presented a political threat, as Herod feared that this would stir his subjects to oppose him.
On Herod’s birthday, Herodias’ daughter, Salome, danced before the king and his guests. Her dancing pleased Herod so much that in his drunkenness he promised to give her anything she desired, up to half of his kingdom. When Salome asked her mother what she should request, her mother told Salome to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Although the request appalled King Herod, he reluctantly agreed and had John executed in the prison. He died sometime between 33 and 36 AD.
Ordinarily, the celebration of a saint’s feast day is the same as their death day. This is because it marks their dies natalis, or “birthday” into eternal life. This rule has two notable exceptions: the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary and that of John the Baptist. Roman Catholic dogma asserts that Mary was free from original sin from the first moment of her existence (her Immaculate Conception), while John was sanctified and cleansed of original sin in the womb of his mother.
Saint John the Baptist is the patron of the Sacrament of Baptism.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.