Jeremiah 26:11-16, 24
In today’s gospel, the oath of a king with a shallow sense of honor, a seductive dance and the hateful heart of a queen combine to present us with the story of a terrible tragic death–the beheading of John the Baptist.
This greatest of prophets suffered the same fate as so many of the Old Testament prophets before him: rejection and martyrdom. The "voice crying in the desert" did not hesitate to accuse the guilty and he did not hesitate to speak the truth.
So we have a story of great brokenness. We see what insecurity arises in a person who cuts himself off from criticism and from the call to repentance. Herod cut himself off from John and from Christ as well.
There are many parallels between John the Baptist and Christ. Both John and Christ died at the hands of men who were powerful and who apparently deeply loved their power. Both Herod and Pilate recognized truth and goodness in John and in Jesus: they both were intrigued and perplexed by these holy men and yet they both gave way to public pressure to murder them.
Each of us has a calling to which we must listen. No one will ever repeat the journey of John the Baptist, and yet each of us is called to his very same mission: to affirm the presence of Christ and to speak the truth. By our words and actions, others will realize that we live in the joy of knowing that we do not have to depend on our own limited resources, but can draw strength from the vastness of Christ’s saving grace.
Blessings for your journey!
Deacon Brian Clements is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California