Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the suffering, the great love and the commitment which a great servant of God had dedicated himself to his Lord and Master, namely St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Messiah, the bearer of the Good News of the Lord’s imminent coming, all that this man of God had done for the sake of the people of God and for his love for them, and how he stood up courageously for the sake of God’s truth, resisting the evils and immoral ways of the world, persisting even against those who were powerful and mighty.
St. John the Baptist was called by God and prepared ever since he was still in his mother, Elizabeth’s womb. St. John the Baptist had been marked by God for the mission which He has entrusted to this man, calling on all of mankind, all of God’s people to return to Him. St. John the Baptist dedicated himself throughout his whole life, preparing himself for his mission, and then calling on many people to return towards the Lord with great repentance, seeking God’s forgiveness, and be baptised as a visible sign of their desire to repent and turn away from the path of sin. That was how he was known as the Baptist.
Today, as we celebrate this Feast of the Passion of St. John the Baptist, we remember the moment when this holy man of God suffers for the sake of the faith, as he endured suffering and hardships in prison, as he defended the truth of God and the righteousness of faith, amidst the immorality of the king of Galilee, Herod and his unlawful wife, Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Contextually and historically, we must understand that it was likely that Herodias married Herod when Philip was still lawfully married to her, and with the daughter of Herodias being mentioned, it was likely she was the daughter of Philip and Herodias, hence therefore Herod’s liaison with Herodias constituted an adultery in the eyes of God and man alike, in opposition of God’s Law and truth.
That was why St. John the Baptist fearlessly criticised Herod and Herodias just as much as he had criticised the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who had misled the people and acted for their own selfish desires and greed. St. John the Baptist did not fear persecution or challenges, trials and hardships, and he entrusted himself completely in the Lord. To the very end, as St. John the Baptist was imprisoned and then by the plotting of Herodias, that led to the martyrdom of this holy man and servant of God, he never gave up his faith and dedication to God, and remained faithful and committed, righteous and fearless to the very end.
Today as we listened to the courageous story of the faith of St. John the Baptist, all of us are also reminded of the calling that each one of us as Christians have received in responding to God’s call to serve Him faithfully in the manner that St. John the Baptist had done, in standing up for our faith in the Lord and in defending the important Christian values and teachings. Each and every one of us are called to be courageous champions and defenders of our faith, and at every available and possible opportunities, we may be called to be witnesses of the Lord and to be missionaries of faith, following in the footsteps of the saints and martyrs.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, today we ought to reflect in what way our lives can glorify God so that in all the things we say and do, we will always proclaim the truth and love of God. All of us have the important obligation and duty to follow the Lord and His ways in all things and at all times. However, we must also realise that there will often be a lot of obstacles and temptations that may distract and drag us away from the path towards God and His salvation. And if we are not careful, we may end up also being dragged into the sins and immorality found aplenty in this world. This is where we have to be inspired by St. John the Baptist and his examples, in giving our all to God.
Are we willing and able to commit ourselves in that way, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to suffer and endure rejection, oppression and even trials for the sake of the Lord. But we have no need to be worried or be fearful, as in the end, the Lord will be by our side and He will guide us to Himself, showing us the sure and right path, guiding us patiently and ever so lovingly, seeking us and reaching out to us, ever lovingly calling on us to turn back towards Him. We should consider ourselves so fortunate to have such a great and loving God and Father, and yet, many of us still hardened our hearts and minds against Him.
May the Lord continue to guide us and bless us, and may He continue to give us the strength to do His will in each and every opportunities we have. May all of us also remain ever faithful to Him and be able to commit ourselves with ever greater and more sincere efforts for His greater glory. May God bless our every actions and efforts, now and always, forevermore. Amen.