First Friday of Denha: Mar Yohannan Mamdana

Click play to listen the Evangalion (gospel reading) of the day.

St.John the Baptist is for the Nazranies Mar Yohannan Mamdana. The word Mamdana is translated Baptizer or Baptist. This Syriac word signifies a person who bathes others. What does it mean? To answer this question we should have the whole of the life of John in our view. He was the child of an old couple for whom God worked a miracle to have this child (Cf.Lk. 1:5-25; 57-80). As this only child of the old couple Zechariah and Elisba (Elizabeth) opted for an austere life when he grew up, he went to the desert and lived most probably as a hermit either in a community like those who lived at Qumran or as a solitary person practicing austerity. We do not have the details of his eremitical life. But we know that he appeared with rustic garments and lived on simple food. Inspired by God he came to the populated places to preach repentance in order to prepare the people for the coming of the Redeemer. He administered a dip in the waters of River Jordan to those who were repentant. This dip was the external sign of the internal or spiritual cleansing of the penitents from their sins. Because of this he was called Baptizer or Mamdana (Cf.Mt.3:1-17; Mk.1:9-12; Lk.3:1-22; Jn.1:6-8; 15, 19-36, 3:25-30).


Courtesy of

The ordeal in Yohannan Mamdana’s life came with his confrontation with king Herod Antipas who was the tetrarch of Galilee and who had unlawfully taken to wife the notorious woman Herodia, the wife of Philip, his brother. For John denounced this unlawful marriage. Although Herod Antipas was afraid of John because he was a man of God, Herodia was nursing feelings of revenge and wanted to do away with John. The opportunity came when Hrodia’s daughter danced and pleased Herod Antipas and the others in the assembly of his birthday party. We know that inspired by Herodia the girl asked for the head of John the Baptist as the prize promised by the extremely pleased king and she was given it. Today’s Gospel reading is telling us this story (Mk.6:14-29). Though John the Baptist lost his head and earthly life, he lives eternally the heavenly life on account of that and is fondly remembered by all God-fearing people.


Notice that today is Friday. It is the day of the Church according to the Syro-Malabar liturgical tradition just as Sunday is the day of the Lord. Hence the important Saints are remembered in this Church generally on Fridays. During the Weeks of Denha we remember thus the most important Saints related to the manifestation of our Lord. Thus on the first Friday we celebrate John the Baptist who proclaimed the Lord’s coming to this world.

With regard to the Old Testament readings of today, Isaiah 35:3-10 tells us about the hope of the turning of a desert into a beautiful garden symbolizing the redemption to be brought by Christ. Isaiah 40:1-8 tells us about the voice crying out in the desert which is quoted by the evangelists (Mt.3:3; Jn.1:23) to designate John the Baptist.


The reading from the Acts of the Apostles 13:13-33 tells us of St. Paul’s missionary journeys to different places and his meeting with the Jews to tell them about Jesus, the promised Messiah. The Epistle to the Ephesians 2:19-3:21 compares Christian life to a strong building founded upon the Apostles and Prophets, the corner stone being Christ Himself. St. Paul again says that he is ministering to the Gospel with devotion and enthusiasm because the love of Christ is unfathomable and surpasses all knowledge.



Credits: Father Thomas Kalayil, CMI <thomas 'dot' kalayil 'at' cmi 'dot' in>


see also:


Read more reflections