Faith Unto Death: John the Baptist ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI
Reading 1:1 COR 1:26-31
Responsorial Psalm: 33:12-13, 18-19, 20-21
Gospel: MK 6:17-29
Liturgical colour: Red.
Dearest brothers and sisters in Christ, Today we come together to honour the Passion of St John the Baptist. The life of St. John the Baptist was indeed a very dramatic one. Even in his mother’s womb, he leapt with joy when Mary greeted Elizabeth at the Visitation. At John’s birth, there was an amazing occasion= that of the choosing of his name which was that which restored the power of speech of his father Zechariah, and which also left the astonished local people wondering who he would he grow up to be. John’s appearances at the river Jordan preaching repentance and baptising people earned him the reputation of “the Baptist” and he was even the one who baptised our Lord Jesus himself.
John had a very illustrious ministry. Yet in essence, he was a prophet and his greatest action as a prophet was to point out to all that Jesus was indeed the Lamb of God. And as a prophet, he had fulfilled his ministry mission by proclaiming the ways of the Lord to all, and pointing out to them, their sin and evil ways, and calling for their repentance and for their conversion. St. John the Baptist paid the consequence for pointing out Herod’s sin, as for doing this, he was captured and was imprisoned in Herod’s fortress. If the life of John the Baptist was dramatic and illustrious, his death was equally very dramatic, and it was also a death which was extremely gruesome in it’s nature.
John’s death by being beheaded, reveals the true character of person of Herod, of Herodias, of her daughter, and also of all the guests that were present, as they did nothing and said nothing to stop the heinous act. For a great prophet like St. John the Baptist who had such a dramatic and illustrious life and ministry, his death was so humiliating, yet indeed, so terrible of nature.
Yet, today, we the Church come to honour him. Over and above all else, we honour him for his faithfulness to God and also for his great courage in the acceptance and fulfilment of his mission of being God’s prophet. Even for us, in all the drama of our lives, whether in times of spills and thrills, or whether in times of being mundane and monotonous, what counts for us will be our faithfulness to God. Because in the end, it will be the depth and strength of our faithfulness to God that mattered. This mattered to St. John the Baptist. It also matters to God and it should indeed be what matters to us!
The life and ministry of John the Baptist, and his willingness to die for his faith and devout service to God, is an excellent example of how our lives as Christians, and as children of God should be. There is much we can take from John the Baptist and can and should, live by such within our own lives.
Let us pray:
O God, who willed that St John the Baptist
should go ahead of Your Son
both in his birth and in his death,
grant that, as he died a Martyr for truth and justice,
we, too, may fight hard
for the confession of what You teach.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
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