Beheading of St. John the Baptist

Today, August 29, is the Memorial of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist.

“Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison, for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; because John said to him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.’ And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.’ And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.”   Matthew 14:3-12

In a homily on St. John the Baptist, Venerable Bede preached, “His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say: I am the truth? Therefore, because John shed his blood for the truth, he surely died for Christ.”

There are many in the world today who demand of those who follow Jesus, not that we deny Jesus, but that we keep silent about the truth. We are asked to keep silent about the truth of God’s revelation in Christ. We are asked to keep silent about the truth of God’s will for moral living. If we speak, there may be consequences.

Satan is about in the world attempting to silence the faithful. He works his wiles to corrupt priests, and even bishops, so the Church will be seen as evil and corrupt through and through, and her faithful viewed as corrupt and evil. He works his wiles to create discord between people of faith and people of science, as if faith and science are enemies, so people of faith are viewed as denying science and enemies of science. He works his wiles to create moral confusion, so what is evil is seen as good, and what is good is seen as evil, so those who desire to live according to the good are viewed as evil. He works his wiles to create doubt about the truth, so that those who claim the truth of Christ are viewed as liars.

What are we to do in the midst of all of this?

We are to speak the truth, boldly, with passion and confidence, knowing that our reward is not in winning the esteem of men and women, but of being faithful to God. St. John the Baptist served the truth, and it was the truth that set him free. The king imprisoned him, but the truth set him free. The king killed him, but the truth gave him eternal life.

Never fear to speak the truth of Christ!

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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