Reflecting on the Passion of John the Baptist


Today we commemorate the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist at the hands of King Herod. John was beheaded for speaking truth to power, for criticizing the king's immoral and adulterous relationship with his brother's wife. John rebuked the king not out of hatred or judgment, but out of love - to call Herod to repentance and to uphold God's law.

John's example calls each of us to examine our own response to sin and injustice in our world. It is tempting to remain silent, to rationalize behavior we know to be wrong, or to go along with societal values that contradict the Gospel. But John boldly spoke the truth, knowing the danger he faced. He chose integrity over comfort and safety. Like John, we are called to bring the light of Christ to the darkness in our society - to speak out against attacks on human life and dignity, materialism and greed, violence and exploitation.

Living as John did also means rejecting status, wealth, and power for their own sakes. John lived a radical life of simplicity in the desert, focused completely on his mission to prepare the way for Christ. He calls us to orient our lives to God through prayer, service, and detachment from things of this world. When God is central, we gain freedom from the grip of empty promises of happiness through possessions, pleasure, and prestige.

On this memorial of his martyrdom, may St. John the Baptist intercede for us and strengthen us. May we have the courage to speak the truth in love, whatever the cost. And may we re-center our hearts on God, realigning our priorities to his will. Then we too can faithfully guide others along the path that John blazed, the path that leads to Jesus Christ.