Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of the Passion of St. John the Baptist, remembering the moment when this very important saint suffered and endured martyrdom for his faith, for his never failing zeal and dedication to God to the very end, even at the cost of his life. And St. John the Baptist is one of the few saints in the Scriptures who have more than one feast day celebrated in his honour.
That is because St. John the Baptist played a very important and crucial role in the history of our salvation, as he is the Herald of the Messiah of God, the one who was prophesied to come just before the coming of God’s Saviour, the Promised One, in order to proclaim His coming to the world. St. John the Baptist himself was also a relative of the Lord, having been born to Elizabeth, Mary’s relative, and therefore St. John the Baptist is also a relative of the Lord Jesus.
And since his birth and youth, St. John the Baptist had been called by God to do His will, as he went on his journey and went into the wilderness, and when he was ready, proclaiming God’s imminent coming to His people, calling them all to repentance and to turn away from their sins. He brought the people to the River Jordan and baptised them with water, as a sign of their commitment to change their way of life and rejection of sin.
Then, St. John the Baptist had to go up against those who were powerful and influential in the community, beginning from the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who doubted him and refused to believe in him, and even doubted and questioned the authority by which St. John the Baptist had performed his baptism and works among the people. And then, he also went up against none other than king Herod himself, the ruler of Galilee.
King Herod had led an immoral life as he took the legally married wife of his brother, Philip, who was still alive then and also likely with a daughter with the brother, as his own. Doing so constituted a very serious adultery and sin, and St. John the Baptist fearlessly confronted the king and Herodias, the wife of the king’s brother whom the former had taken as his own. As a result, Herodias in particular held a grudge against the saint and tried very hard to kill the holy man of God. She managed to get the saint imprisoned for what he had courageously spoke up against.
That was exactly how she managed to plot against the saint, by what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, when during a feast, Herodias tricked king Herod into giving in to her demands to have the saint killed and had his head placed on a platter before her, through the means of temptation and through her own beautiful daughter’s seduction before the king’s presence.
And in enduring the suffering, the imprisonment and eventually martyrdom, St. John the Baptist remained true to the mission which God had sent him into this world for, to the very end. He is truly a role model for all of us, God’s faithful people in how we should live out our lives with faith as Christians. All of us have been called by God to look upon the examples of this faithful servant who gave himself totally to God and devoted his life’s effort to glorify God.
Are we able to stand by our faith and our commitment to God in our everyday lives, even at times when the world itself may be against us? That is what St. John the Baptist had done, devoting himself to the cause and the mission God has entrusted to him. He did not give up despite the challenges and oppositions he had, and put his trust completely in the Lord, just as the prophet Jeremiah in our first reading today was reassured by God that He would be with him throughout the entire journey.
Let us all discern carefully and think in what way we can bring ourselves and others closer to God by our own examples and by our dedication to God. The truth is that, the best way to evangelise is through our own examples and our own obedience to God’s will. It is when others see that in our every words, deeds and actions we show our true faith and commitment, and that we mean our every words and actions, then naturally others will follow in our footsteps, just as the courage of St. John the Baptist had inspired many of us in our faith.
May the Lord therefore strengthen us in our faith that we may be courageous in faith and in life just as His faithful servant St. John the Baptist had done, in enduring all sorts of trials and challenges, and even martyrdom for the sake of his faith and dedication to God. Let us all follow his footsteps and be ever more Christian-like in our daily living from now on. May God bless us all and our good works, now and forevermore. Amen.