|Memorial of the Beheading of
St. John the Baptist
Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
The Call of Jeremiah “…They will fight against you, but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”
Prayer in Time of Old Age “…My mouth shall declare your justice, day by day your salvation. O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.”
The Death of John the Baptist “Herod feared John (the Baptist), knowing him to be an upright and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much disturbed; yet he felt the attraction of his words….”
Memorial of the Martyrdom of John the Baptist, today we remember St. John the Baptist, and his conviction to proclaiming the Truth. John’s brutal death by decapitation is spoken about in today’s Gospel in Mark. His death was sought because John had spoken out about King Herod’s immoral marriage to his brother’s wife Herodias. It was Herodias who harbored a grudge against John for his position and she was continually looking for ways to have John killed.
Really, St. John the Baptist needs little introduction, as we know him as the one who “prepared the way” for the Messiah. He introduced his world then, and us today, to his cousin, our Lord, Jesus. John’s keen sense of Jesus’ Godly nature was first witnessed by his actions even before he was born. Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant with John, remarked about the feeling of having John leap in her womb when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, came to visit them. After John was born and grew up he traveled around telling people about the one who was to come. He baptized many with water asking them to repent, and told them that the One to come would baptize with fire and the Holy Spirit. John was involved with another introduction of Jesus when he baptized Jesus with water. When Jesus approached him to be baptized, John said he was not worthy to even carry Jesus’ sandals. But God used John’s baptism of Jesus as an opportunity to teach the people. At Jesus’ baptism the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, resting upon Him, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16,17)
John’s spiritual sensitivity was incredible; his ability to recognize the Lord was enviable. It is my prayer during the second decade of the Joyous Mysteries, the Visitation, to pray for John’s intercession in helping me increase my awareness of the Lord all around me. I recall, too, John’s time in the desert, where his denial of self was certain, as the bible says he lived on locusts and honey. John’s keen spiritual life was impressive, but can we live the life St. John the Baptist lived? Probably not. It sure doesn’t sound appealing. But we can ask God’s help to diminish the fears, which keep us from completely trusting in God, as He calls us to service. God won’t call all to the austere life John lived, but how many times do you ask God, “Here I am Lord, what is it you would have me do for you?” In the reading in Jeremiah, we are reminded there is nothing that we can’t do with the Lord’s help. “They will fight against you, but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 1:19)
Help us St. John to hear God’s voice each and every day through all
the noise and distraction; that we might long for a little of your desert
quiet. And help us to be able to say yes to the Lord’s call.
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