The Passion of Saint John the Baptist- August 29th

 

images.duckduckgo.comjohn baptist

A few days ago in the Holy Mother Church we celebrated the Passion and martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist.  Earlier, in June, we celebrated the birth and nativity of Saint John. In the history of the Church very few have been honored in such a way, as to celebrate their births as well as their deaths…Jesus and Mary are the only other two to enjoy such distinction. It is clear that God had big plans for Saint John right from the start, as he is the only one beside the Blessed Mother and Jesus to be born without the mark of Original sin. We know that unlike Mary who was conceived without the stain of Original sin, Saint John was cleansed of his stain while still in the womb of his mother Elizabeth, when she encountered the Blessed Mother, who was carrying the Child Jesus in her womb. Like Mary, who had been prepared for Her important role in the life of Christ, John was chosen and thus cleansed so that he could be an unfettered voice of Truth in the dark world…shedding a beacon of light that Christ would come and fill.

As we read in Mark’s gospel, John has been imprisoned by Herod, for speaking out against the adulterous and incestuous relationship Herod was having with his brother’s ex-wife, Herodias. Even though everyone recognized that the relationship was immoral, only Saint John, who had been living alone in the desert, had the courage to proclaim the Truth. The Holy Spirit was moving in Saint John, revealing a Truth that not even a sinful man such as Herod could totally deny.

images.duckduckgo.comherodiasBut Herodias was another matter entirely! She wanted John dead! Her heart was a burning pit of hatred for the Saint as she devised a plan that would put an end to John. She encouraged her daughter Salome, from her previous marriage, dance in a seductive way for Herod at a huge party they were having. From what we gather, the dance was a means of gaining control of Herod and it works….Soon the drunken, sexually aroused Herod is making big promises and boasting in front of his guests that he can give the girl what ever she wants! With a word from her mother, it is the head of John the Baptist that she requests! Herod, who is a coward and too proud to back down from his big boasts, and risk facing embarrassment from his guests, sends one of his guards to cut the head off of the Holy Saint.

In researching this Gospel passage and the martyrdom of Saint John, I was rather disturbed by the large number of women who honor Herodias and Salome because of how they used their sexual exploits to undermine men of the Bible… and set the path for the murder of a very holy one. Instead of being looked upon as the temptresses they are, women actual sort of idolize them instead. It is a sad state of our times that so many women do not understand the detrimental effect their promiscuous behavior has on society as a whole. I’m not trying to say that all of our society’s ills are to blame on women, but often times if the women in a society develop immoral standards….the majority of the men will follow…that is just how it goes….all the way back to the garden of Eden.

Interestingly enough, here is a man, Herod, who is wrought with sin, but is still able to sense the Truth when he hears it, but is unable to resist the temptations that the lure of sexual arousal has over him, and quickly falls under the seduction of lust when he watches his own wife’s daughter dance. It’s quite sickening when you think about it. The adulterous relationship is bad enough, but then Herodias uses the beauty of her young daughter to sexually arouse her ‘husband’ Herod, to manipulate him into murdering a holy man!

images.duckduckgo.comjohn's head

I know women are eager to get what they want by any means necessary, and more often than not rely on these same kind of temptations to gain control over men to satisfy their own desires, but how many of them would continue if they knew the devastating effects it puts on their souls?! Quite shocking really, and it is something that as Faithful Catholics trying to live a Holy life, we need to pray about...and teach our daughters…and our sons the evilness about….But now…back to Saint John.

Saint Bede the Venerable said that as a forerunner of Christ, John suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our Redeemer… giving his life for Him. John was not asked to deny Christ, but he was asked to keep silent about the Truth…this he could not do, for Christ said, ” I am the Truth.” Therefore, because Saint John died for the Truth, indeed he died for Christ! Through John’s birth, preaching and baptizing, he bore witness to the coming birth, preaching and baptism of Christ. And by accepting his own unjust punishment and suffering, he showed us that Christ also would suffer unjustly. What a powerhouse of strength St. John was! Think about him the next time you are having a conversation with someone who denies the Truth that Christ has revealed to us…do you remain silent…complicit in the denial? Or do you stand up as St. John did and defend the Truth? Thus defending Christ? Again, it would seem that we have much to pray about…especially in regards for asking the intercession of such a man as St. John the Baptist…

images.duckduckgo.com the beheading of john

 

Saint Bede the Venerable also wrote: “Such was the quality and strength of the man who accepted the end of this present life by shedding his blood after the long imprisonment. He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men; he was locked away in the darkness of prison, though he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be called a bright  and shining lamp by that Light itself, which is Christ. John was baptized in his own blood, though he had been privileged to baptize the Redeemer of the world, to hear the voice of the Father above him, and to see the grace of the Holy Spirit descending upon him. But to endure temporal agonies for the sake of the Truth was not a heavy burden for such men as John; rather it was easily borne and even desirable for he knew eternal joy would be his reward.

Since death was ever near at hand through the inescapable necessity of nature, such men considered it a blessing to embrace it and  thus gain the reward of eternal life by acknowledging Christ’s name. Hence the apostle Paul rightly says: “You have been granted the privilege not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake.” He tells us why it is Christ’s gift that His chosen ones should suffer for Him: ‘The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.’ ” –St. Bede the Venerable.

images.duckduckgo.com heaven                    Saint John the Baptist….and all the Holy Souls in Heaven…pray for us.

 

e quality and strength of the man who accepted the end of this present life by shedding his blood after the long imprisonment. He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men; he was locked away in the darkness of prison, though he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be called a bright and shining lamp by that Light itself, which is Christ. John was baptized in his own blood, though he had been privileged to baptize the Redeemer of the world, to hear the voice of the Father above him, and to see the grace of the Holy Spirit descending upon him. But to endure temporal agonies for the sake of the truth was not a heavy burden for such men as John; rather it was easily borne and even desirable, for he knew eternal joy would be his reward.

imprisonment. He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men; he was locked away in the darkness of prison, though he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be called a bright and shining lamp by that Light itself, which is Christ. John was baptized in his own blood, though he had been privileged to baptize the Redeemer of the world, to hear the voice of the Father above him, and to see the grace of the Holy Spirit descending upon him. But to endure temporal agonies for the sake of the truth was not a heavy burden for such men as John; rather it was easily borne and even desirable, for he knew eternal joy would be his reward.

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