The Passion of Saint John the Baptist
Today we reflect on the Beheading of John the Baptist. Beheading, a violent form of execution in any age, in the opinion of Herod’s wife was a sure method for silencing the voice of John the Baptist. John the Baptist spoke truth Herodias did not want to hear. As I reflect on today’s readings, I wonder how often I don’t want to hear the truth spoken in the Gospel message.
Do I really want to hear the truth spoken regarding peace and the message of non-violence? Am I comfortable when I hear Jesus speak about riches and their relationship to my participation in the Kingdom of God? When I truly understand the point regarding forgiveness of those who trespass against me do I cover my ears? When Jesus says I must “take up the cross and follow Him” do I qualify his statement by trying to define my own cross on my own terms? When Paul preaches Christ living in me and all creation do I think twice about my share of creation and what I do with my own “footprint” on this earth?
Whatever we say about Herodias and her leap to beheading John the Baptist, I think we have to admit that she was quite sincere and honest about her motive. I’m not sure I can always say the same about myself. When I am confronted with the truth of the Gospel, I think I sometimes participate in a “selective beheading”. I choose which parts of the message to ignore, water down or simply re-frame on my own terms.
Herod traded the truth for a dance by Herodias’ daughter. Am I trading the truth for convenience, comfort or the avoidance of sacrifice? Like it or not, we probably all have a little of Herodias’ approach inside our hearts.
Today, I pray that God will give me at least some of the courage and strength of John the Baptist. I also pray that I will be less selective and will truly begin to listen to the truth in the life and teachings of Jesus.
Terry McDevitt, Ph.D. is a member of our Passionist Family who volunteers at the Passionist Assisted Living Community in Louisville, Kentucky.