All For Jesus! 21st Century Discipleship
Today’s Gospel selection from St. Mark recounts the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist at the hands of a weak-willed King Herod…a saga of religious dedication and heroism meeting basic human nature.
John the Baptist was a man completely absorbed in the person of Jesus Christ. He had one mission: to point out Jesus to others. The persons, John the Baptist and Jesus, go “hand in hand” …totally giving of themselves in sacrificial love.
Sad to say, the dedicated, heroic life of John the Baptist ended with the almost ludicrous actions of King Herod. Herod was a petty ruler, the pawn of his unscrupulous wife; he allowed himself to become enraptured by the party-dancing of his own young daughter. So taken up by the party, the people present, and the dancing of his daughter, Herod publicly promised her anything – even swearing regarding his intentions! The ultimate outcome: John the Baptist was murdered per the request of Herodias relayed through her daughter, beheaded as the party ended. John’s heroic life tragically ended as a victim of humanness, weakness, and sinfulness.
We hear this gripping story as 21st Century disciples of Jesus Christ, in our global scene of pandemics and politics, of injustice and insecurity. Like John the Baptist, we are called to point out Jesus in our world, to unselfishly love and serve the Lord, day by day, even in the hum-drum times of everyday life. Our love for Jesus is to be expressed in simple, practical ways like hospitality, concern for the needy, faithfulness to our vocations, detachment from things, and reliance on God. Our lives may not appear “heroic” as portrayed of King David in today’s first reading from the Book of Sirach, yet we are to give ourselves completely to God in ways both great and small.
As “Ordinary Time” continues to unfold and we embrace these wintery days in the northern hemisphere, questions come to mind: what challenges do we face as we point out Jesus in our world? Do we at times “get carried away” by people or situations? What helps us maintain our strength and perspective?
May the words of today’s Psalm 18 encourage us daily: “…blessed be my Rock! Extolled be God my savior. Therefore, I will proclaim you, O Lord, among the nations, and I will sing praise to your name.”
Fr. John Schork, CP, serves as the Province Vocation Director and also as Local Superior
of Holy Name Passionist Community in Houston, Texas.