- Wednesday, 29 August 2018 07:35
Today is the feast of the beheading of St. John the Forerunner and Baptist.
Sacred Scripture reveals that John the Baptist was a cousin of Our Lord whose mission was to preach repentance to Israel in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. The famous rebuke of King Herod for his unlawful marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, landed John in prison and on the wrong end of Herodias’ admiration. Concluding Salome’s dance for the King’s birthday he promised to give her whatever she asked for, even up to half his kingdom. Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod ordered the execution. We honor St. John the Baptist as the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets.
The Kondakion (in the Byzantine Liturgy) reads:
The beheading of the forerunner was indeed a dreadful crime, somehow fitting into the plan of God, for John thereby became the herald of the savior’s visit to those in hades. As for you, Herodias, cry your eyes out, bewail your deed, for you preferred murder to the law of God, rejecting eternal, everlasting life, for a false and passing one.
- Tuesday, 29 August 2017 13:09
Our remembrance today of the Baptist’s martyrdom calls to mind that we are baptized not only with water but also in the fire of the Holy Spirit. Today, I keenly recall that we are in fact, unfit to untie the Lord’s sandals. That we need the Spirit to cry Ecce in front of the person of Jesus. What further does this killing of the cousin of the Lord teach us? What value does our memorial have in reality for us today?
Benedict XVI said, “celebrating the martyrdom of St John the Baptist reminds us too, Christians of this time, that with love for Christ, for his words and for the Truth, we cannot stoop to compromises. The Truth is Truth; there are no compromises. Christian life demands, so to speak the “martyrdom” of the daily fidelity to the Gospel, the courage, that is, to let Christ grow within us and let him be the One who guides our thoughts and actions” (August 29, 2012).
- Monday, 29 August 2016 17:26
The 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.
- Sunday, 13 December 2015 08:55
We 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.”
- Saturday, 29 August 2015 10:29
Today, 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!