THE PASSION OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST AUGUST 29, 2020
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark 6:17-29
Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias’ own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
REFLECTION: “John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.””
Imagine today’s society listening to John say this insulting statement to a king. What a backlash John the Baptist would get. Tongues would be wagging at his audacity to publicly speak against authority. He would be accused of playing God and judging King Herod. Maybe they would think John is just a crazy fanatic jealous of Herod and trying to be hateful toward him. John would be considered shockingly improper and definitely politically incorrect.
However, the Holy Spirit was with John and a “voice crying in the wind” spoke Truth. He spoke out because, by not speaking against this public sin, he would be in agreement to the sin. He understood how evil spreads. Once others were comfortable with this lifestyle, they would do the same and society would generally follow suit. Essentially, the sin of one in authority would spread throughout society.
Holy Scripture reveals the ways of the world and how evil unfolds before us, intertwining in all walks of life. Unfortunately, in today’s society the truth is sometimes twisted, so that the wrong doings are now considered right. Our complacency of politeness has been run over by the evils of this world.
Let us pray to the Holy Spirit, which led John the Baptist to speak truth without fear. So, we too may follow the will of God and be inspired to call out sinful actions, not the sinner. We should lovingly speak truth to our friends and family to prevent the spread of deceit in twisted truth.
The apostles respectfully took the body of John the Baptist for a proper burial as soon as they learned of Herod’s evil deed. John’s life was highly honored and respected by the followers of Christ as he was laid to rest in a tomb. At the end of our lives, how will others perceive us when we are brought to our final resting place? Let us ask ourselves, did we risk our lives to speak the truth?