Tag Archives: St John the Baptist

Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Beheading the Baptist detailThe Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist (cf. Mark 6:17-29) is liturgically recalled today. For centuries, St. John the Baptist served as the principal model for those in religious life and as a model for Christian manhood. I always find John the Baptist a figure that convicts my Christian life.

There was a time when images of sainted founders of religious orders and other holy personages were painted with an image of the Baptist to remind the viewer many Christian virtues: the pursuit of and willingness to die for the truth, the discipleship needed to be a proclaimer of the Gospel, to build a relationship with the Messiah, to be in pursuit of the virtue of perseverance of the seeker, living the ascetic ideal, and the like.

We have to attend to St. John the Baptist not only because he was a cousin of Our Savior, but he also presents to us a method of how to live in relation to Him from whom we have eternal life. The Church gives us a rare example of holiness to contemplate that is not given to other saints: a feast of birth and death.

On the score of what the Baptist faced with passion, that is, the categorical rejection of sugar-coating the truth, and the refusal to be politically correct, the saint is images the correspondence of faith and reason. The high degree of intercourse with reality is something we don’t much appreciate today and much less desire to walk in the same footsteps. We too often lack courage –the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The enduring importance of St. John the Baptist’s example, hence, is the important call to each of us to ask the Holy Spirit to give us the gifts we need to be disciples of the Lord and missionaries in the world today. We can’t be faithful to God’s holy word with Divine Help, the same help St. John the Baptist relied upon.

Distinguished from Christ

the BaptistWe have arrived at Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent. It’s a short time before the celebration of the Lord’s Nativity. In both forms of the sacred Liturgy we encounter the Lord’s cousin, Saint John the Baptist. The supreme lesson the Baptist teaches is that we are not Jesus, which seems obvious to say but in reality so many think they are the messiah and therefore do not live in humility. Here is an excerpt from a meditation by Saint Augustine on the Prophet Saint John the Baptist:

“What does to prepare the way mean, except to pray as you ought, to be humble-minded? Take an example of humility from John himself. He is thought to be the Christ, but he says he is not what people think. He does not use the mistake of others to feed his own pride. Suppose he had said: I am the Christ. How easily would he have been believed, since that was what people were thinking before he spoke! But he did not say it. He acknowledged who he was, distinguished himself from Christ, humbled himself.”

Passion of John the Baptist

Passion of John the BaptistToday, the Churches of East and West, liturgically celebrate the Beheading of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John.

The biblical narrative is related in Mark 6: 17-29.

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us!

Seeking the “one who is greater”

Prophet John the BaptistToday, we locate ourselves in the second week of Advent. (I hope I am more centered this week than I was last.) The Church hears from the Lord’s cousin, the Forerunner and Prophet John the Baptist in the gospel reading. Saint John is rather mysterious and yet he’s an attractive figure who has the unique work of pointing us to the Kingdom of God unfolding in front of us; he also points out the Messiah. That’s exactly what we attempt to do within the various communities to which we belong: family, parish, religious, work, and social.

The mature Christian (or the one who takes his or her spiritual life we seriousness) takes up the Baptist’s work of doing what he did: bring others to the Lord. Each with his own work. The outward role in salvation history of Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna are very different, as is with John the Baptist, but also with each one of us sharing the Good News.

We seek and serve  and love “one who is greater than us.”

Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Naming of St John BaptistChrist is the completion of the law for righteousness unto every one that believes. … For this reason the blessed Baptist is brought forward, as one who had attained the foremost place in legal righteousness, and to a praise so far incomparable. And yet even thus he is ranked as less than one who is least: “for the least, He says, is greater than he in the kingdom of God.” But the kingdom of God signifies, as we affirm, the grace that is by faith, by means of which we are accounted worthy of every blessing, and of the possession of the rich gifts which come from above from God. For it frees us from all blame; and makes us to be the sons of God, partakers of the Holy Ghost, and heirs of a heavenly inheritance.

St. Cyril of Alexandria
Sermon XXXVIII [Commentary on Luke]

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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