If I were to tell you of a story of a boy who was conceived through the intercession of an angel, to parents who were both visited by an angle, and who started his public ministry by going off into the desert, you would immediately know who I was talking about. If I went on to tell you that during his public ministry he was surrounded by disciples, was met with controversy, got himself crosswise with the authorities, both Jewish and Roman, that he spoke of a doctrine that was hard to listen to by some and even harder to live by you would be even more sure who I was talking about. And if I ended by telling you that he was ultimately executed by the Romans in a horrible and humiliating way you would tell me to stop going on and on because we all know that I would be talking about John the Baptist.
The similarities and connections between Jesus and John are pretty amazing. John’s preaching’s had interesting similarities. According to the Gospel of Luke, John preached of justice and charity for all. And, what we all remember the most about John was that he preached of the forgiveness of God. His traditional of immersion was a recognition of the healing power of God. This was a very different concept. It was not inherent to the Jewish traditions. John’s “rite” spoke of not only the washing away of our sins but more importantly of possibility of a reunion with God. It symbolized a possibility of salvation and rebirth.
When we think about John the Baptist we think of the baptistery, the forerunner of Christianity. He preached of the coming of our lord and savior. He would warn of the coming of the lord, the one that would come after him to which he was not worthy to untie his sandals.
Their first encounter was when both were still in the womb. When Elizabeth heard the voice of Mary the child in her worm leap for joy. Imagine that confidence of an encounter. The simple proximity of our lord cause him to leap before he was aware of anything else.
Today we hear of the circumstances surrounding the death of John. The intrigue the conspiracy, you have to admit this would make a good Netflix movie if not TV series. (I’m not sure what the second season would be about but there was some juice stuff there.
If we put that stuff aside and think of the modern relevance we can all relate to the times in our lives where the calling of salvation and rebirth gets overwhelmed by things of the world. Maybe not to the extent of the way in which John’s head got overwhelmed but overwhelmed just the same.
In the first reading we heard of John’s single purpose,
“When I came to you, brothers and sisters,
proclaiming the mystery of God,
I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom.
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you
except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
Similar to Paul, John in his single minded in his message, prepare the way of the Lord, in you heart, in your life. This is all that he wants, even if it is a little difficult for this to happen from times to times.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
MK 6:17 – 29
Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers,
his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee.
Herodias’ own daughter came in
and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
“Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request,
“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.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
August 29, 2022
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