Matthew 25:1-13
August 27, 2020
Matthew 16:21-27
August 27, 2020

Mark 6:17-29 Beheading of John the Baptist

August 29 – Beheading of John the Baptist
Jeremiah 1:17-19
Mark 6:17-29

A. Text/Context

  • We all know John the Baptist (Juan Bautista) very well because of the two feast days that we celebrate for him: June 24 his birth, and today August 29, his death
  • It is very rare in the liturgy of the Church when it celebrates both his birth and his death because John the Baptist plays a very important role in the ministry of Jesus himself
  • Jesus and John have a very close affinity. Remember that Elizabeth the mother of John is a cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus
  • John prepared the way of the Lord making the paths straight by preaching repentance to the people, thus, the crooked life of the people was made straight because of his preaching
  • A lot of people followed him, repented of their sins, made amends in their own lives, and now ready to receive the Lord
  • But there are also people who disliked him because of his preaching. John the Baptist is frank and straightforward in telling the truth
  • And one of them is Herod (the son of King Herod the Great) who was very displeased and offended with what John had told him concerning the immorality of his life
  • He was told right smack in his own face that what he is doing is wrong and that is, divorcing his wife in order to marry the wife of his half brother Herodias. That what they are doing is immoral and adulterous to put it in the context of our language today
  • And John gets a very expensive price for telling the truth, it costs him his own life, his own head
  • Herod gets mad and John gets arrested and imprisoned
  • Ironically, our evangelist Mark describes Herod as one who loves to listen to the preaching of John in the gospel today
  • But according to a Jewish historian named Josephus, John was likely to inspire a revolution against the political career of Herod that is why he languished in jail. JB is a threat to the political career and stability of Herod
  • At the same time, Herodias also harbored the same feelings of ill will against John
  • So, there was this party thrown at the palace for the dignitaries of Herod (it is customary for royalties to host banquets with entertainment and it is very common to hire dancers)
  • Herod made an oath in this occasion (in Mediterranean culture, a public oath is meant to be fulfilled) that he will grant the entertainer what she asks, and brags that he will grant even half of his kingdom
  • And so Herodias finds the right moment to exact vengeance from the man she hates and asks for the head of John in a platter (through her daughter Salome)
  • Herod can no longer refuse because of his palabra de honor. It will be a shame and disgust not to honor his own words
  • And so goes the death of JB. The head decapitated from the neck and served in a platter. And that was the tragic end of our saint today. He was a martyr

B. Human Situation

  • My sisters and brothers, how do we look at the martyrdom of John the Baptist in our life as Christians? Of course we do not mean a martyrdom similar to that of JB
  • Literally, the bloody martyrdom of JB (where blood flowed) is no longer the spirituality of today. That was the style even up to the medieval times
  • There are a few of them in our modern times: Bishop Romero of El Salvador, our local missionaries who suffered under the brutal hands of the Abu Sayyaf
  • And there are not only, priests, brothers, sisters or religious, but also lay people as well who died in the spirit of service to others. They are the modern martyrs
  • What is the reason why JB was martyred? It is because of the pride of Herod. It is because of the false honor that Herod killed JB
  • In the 1st reading from the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord commanded him to stand up and tell them all that I command you and Jeremiah faced severe persecutions
  • Pride is the reigning value of the world not only today but even in the beginning. It is because of pride that humanity has fallen from grace
  • It is because of pride and false honor that the world has become unpleasant to live today
  • It is the search for more money, more power, and more fame that the world runs after. All components of the capital sin, pride
  • More power because we want to rule over others, so we can control them, manipulate them, we want to subjugate people and make them captive under our control, that’s pride. The virtue of humility is forgotten
  • More money because money and power are inseparable, more money means more power because we want all the comforts and the pleasures of the flesh that money can buy. The virtue of contentment, trust and reliance of the provident God is forgotten
  • More fame because we want to be adored and worshipped by many. We want praise and affirmation, we want to be the talk of the town, and we hunger for recognition
  • We have forgotten that the praises of men are empty. Selfishness is the word, dying to one’s self is forgotten. With these, charity is lost because pride centers on the self
  • Why do people corrupt themselves and steal the coffers of public and private corporations? Because they want to live a comfortable lifestyle that is beyond the brackets of their salaries
  • What does it mean now to be a martyr in the modern times? Martyrdom today means to offset or deter the prevailing value of pride. And this is done through acts of charity and humility
  • Being a martyr today is being disciplined, being responsible in all our actions. What we do, we must be ready for the consequences
  • Martyrdom means being hardworking and industrious, being faithful and sincere to our duties and obligations, because if we love our work, we will progress
  • If we are a religious, then we try our best to be faithful to the vows we made before the altar of God, to be faithful to the charism of the order or congregation, because our charism broadens the spectrum of our Christian apostolate
  • If we are teachers, then we develop the basic tenets of teaching, instill values in whatever subject you teach. Let the students appreciate the finer things in life through the arts, and analytic thinking through the sciences
  • If we are students, maximize time for study so you will not be tempted to cheat. Cheating is a mark of indiscipline. It will be a small beginning to commit a greater sin
  • Martyrdom today is actually doing our responsibilities, duties and obligations entrusted to us with sincerity
  • Martyrdom today is no longer the blood that flowed from our wounds, but the sweat, the perspiration, and even the tears that come out because of the hard work and sacrifices for the good of others, with the right intentions and motivations in whatever state of life we are in. That is martyrdom

C. Challenge

  • This is the challenge that the gospel on the beheading of JB brings us today
  • It is the giving, the sharing to others for their own good and benefit that modern martyrdom is calling us today, through the faithful exercise of our duties. We do the best we can in all we do, small or big
  • And in the process of doing we always commit mistakes. Do not be disheartened, do not be discouraged because God understands how limited we are. God considers human weakness. We only have to do our part, God will supply the rest

 

 

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