Giving ourselves over to His will...
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of the Passion of St. John the Baptist (August 29, 2020): 1 COR 1:26-31; PS 33:12-13,18-19,20-21; MK 6:17-29
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John the Baptist had a unique role in preparing the way for the long-awaited Messiah among the Jewish people.
We commemorate today the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist. He had been chosen by Almighty God to precede His Son’s ministry of salvation. John the Baptist had a unique role in preparing the way for the long-awaited Messiah among the Jewish people. He called them to repent their sins and open their hearts for the coming of the one who would save them. John was a model of fidelity to the will of God and to speaking the truth at any cost. We hear in the Gospel how John denounced Herod Antipas for his unlawful marriage to his brother’s wife Herodias. Herod had John arrested; yet the king was fascinated by the Baptist and actually liked to listen to him. Herodias, however, wanted his death and the opportunity came when her daughter Salome danced for the king. In his drunken and lustful foolishness he offered her whatever she wanted. At her mother’s urging, she demanded: “‘I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.’ The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head” (Mark 6:25-27).
Knowing that Jesus was the Christ who had come among His people, John waited in prison for whatever God asked of him next. He had offered everything to God by urging people to do the same thing – give themselves over to His will. When John met his death, he knew that it was now Jesus’ time to reveal Himself. So we see the weak ruler whose fear and arrogance would not permit him to do what was right order a man of courage and integrity to be killed. Just as St. John the Baptist was unjustly arrested and executed, so would Jesus be as well. Like Pontius Pilate after him, Herod could not acknowledge the truth. However, in the death of Jesus, our Savior and the Son of God, life and truth triumphed in His Resurrection. That, after all, was the God-given plan for which John willingly gave his own life.