The Passion of Saint John the Baptist
1 Thessalonians 3:7-13; Psalm 90:3-5, 12-14, 17;Mark 6:17-29
“‘What shall I ask for?’ … ‘The head of John the Baptist.’ (Mark 6:24)”
How do you think you would act if you had TV cameras broadcasting every moment of your life to the entire world? What behaviors would you be embarrassed about or try to hide from the camera? Wouldn’t you try to be on your best behavior all the time?
In today’s Gospel reading, we see Herodias struggling with a similar issue. She had finally managed to become queen, when along came John the Baptist publicly chastising her and King Herod for their sinful marriage.
In a sense, John the Baptist was the first-century equivalent of a twenty-four-hour news channel. He had no problem broadcasting breaking news about Herod, and he drew a large viewing audience. Even Herod himself enjoyed listening to him. Yet John was very clear in his public declarations against their marriage. He repeatedly pointed out that the King and Queen were breaking the Jewish marriage laws against divorce and marrying relatives. Even when Herod imprisoned him, John continued to be a constant reminder to Herodias of their sins. But rather than heed his message, Herodias decided to get rid of the messenger.
Herodias forgot that silencing John would not silence God. He didn’t need a news flash to know what she was up to; he saw it all! In fact, he was the One who had commissioned John to speak so boldly—all in the hopes that she would discover the mercy, grace, and love that come with repentance. Oh, if only Herodias had learned that God wasn’t just watching, he was loving as well. He was ready, at any point, to forgive her and enfold her in his arms. All she had to do was turn to him. Then she would have found true relief.
God has a message for you today, just as he did for Herodias. It’s a call to repentance—but not a harsh, judgmental one. It’s a loving, patient invitation to meet him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Can you hear him inviting you to come and be made clean?
“Lord, help me live my life in a way that would make you smile. Help me confess my hidden sins, and protect me from all temptation! Lord, I want to overcome every obstacle and give my whole heart to you.”