Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Martyrdom of John the Baptist


Today we remember the martyrdom of John the Baptist, also known as the decollation of the saint.

Head of John the Baptist  fromthe Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland Museum of Art

The Beheading of John the Baptist 

I remember the first time I saw a re-enactment of the death of John the Baptist. It was from the 1961 movie, King of Kings and I was watching with my grandparents on our wonderful new color t.v. set. I remember thinking that King Herod got ripped off in his barter with Salome.  I saw better and more interesting dancers at the little ballet school I was enrolled in! As it turns out Rita Hayward had done more interesting choreography a few years before that!.

In my innocence, I also wondered what the heck this young woman would want with the head of a man for her very own.


I think what's important to note for today's commemoration at this period of time, is that John the Baptist was one of the first saints to be martyred for defending the sanctity of marriage. He spoke out freely and forcefully against the unlawful marriage of the king and was imprisoned and executed for it.

Have things really changed that much? Today we find that marriage is still under great attack. Divorce is commonplace and even encouraged, cohabitation is even more common than marriage, and support of traditional marriage is looked at as bigotry and prejudice. And although our society doesn't go around beheading or imprisoning people who support the sanctity of marriage, there are certainly social and sometimes financial consequences for doing so. 

Jesus honored John in Matthew 11;11.  According to Professor Scott Hahn: 
Jesus also points us to a prophet—holding up John as a model. John knew that life was more than food, the body more than clothing. He sought the kingdom of God first, confident that God would provide (see Matthew 6:25-34). John did not complain. He did not lose faith. Even in chains in his prison cell, he was still sending his disciples—and us—to our Savior.

From Divine Office.org

Today is the memorial of The Passion (beheading) of Saint John the Baptist. Called to proclaim the coming of the Messiah, he boldly spoke the truth in word and deed. Saint John rebuked Herod Antipas’ behavior at having married his niece, who was also his half-brother’s wife, saying, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herod placed John in prison. While John was incarcerated, he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if he was the Messiah, to which Jesus replied that his actions spoke for themselves. As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus told the onlookers that John more than a prophet. After Herod had John beheaded at John’s behest, his disciples took his body and buried it. [2][3]



Statue by Mussner Vincenzo



From the office of readings:

Through his birth, preaching and baptizing, he bore witness to the coming birth, preaching and baptism of Christ, and by his own suffering he showed that Christ also would suffer.

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.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...