The WORD in Other Words by Fr Ferdinand Bajao SVD (Philippines)
Memorial of the Martyrdom of John the Baptist, Jer 1:17-19, Mark 6, 17-29
Herod had John the Baptist arrested despite knowing that John was a righteous and holy man, a prophet anointed by God. Herodias begrudged John out of pride against admitting that the Baptist was right in condemning her adulterous relationship with Herod. Herodias‘ daughter asked for the Baptist‘s head without care.
There were actually moments of grace in these characters‘ lives. Herod, despite John‘s preaching against his sinfulness, still “liked to listen to him.” Herodias was also attempting to kill John, but was “unable to do so.” There was time to change her mind. Her daughter was not resolved to kill anyone. Herod could have cancelled his proposal, but he was too ashamed to turn back on his words. Even if it meant sin and transgression against a prophet and God, John must die!
We may think of them as evil, weak, and foolish but they are actually “us” every time we compromise our principles and values out of selfishness. We are Herod when we value power and image at the expense of others‘ reputations or betray people and endanger them because we want to appear “upright.” We are Herodias when we think ill of others especially when rebuked or corrected. We are her clueless daughter when we nod to the devil‘s works and prefer the world‘s standards to God‘s.
Our challenge is not to go down the path of Herod, Herodias and her daughter, but to heed always the “voice of one crying in the desert.”
O God, who willed that Saint John the Baptist should go ahead of your Son both in his birth and in his death, grant that, as he died a Martyr for truth and justice, we, too, may fight hard for the confession of what you teach.