HOMILY THEME: The Head of John the Baptist

BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu


HOMILY: (Read 1 Thess. 3:7-13, Psalm 90 and Mark 6:17-29)
Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; because he had married her. For John said to Herod: “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him” (Mark 6:17-19).

Once upon a time, a popular musician sang: “If you stand for the truth, you will always stand alone.” The lyrics of this song really underscores our celebration today. Indeed, we are reminded that there is a price we must pay if we dare to speak the truth to others especially those in positions of authority over us.

It is not easy to summon courage to correct your king, your leader or even your Priest/Pastor. For the last three days, we read about how Jesus gives it very hot to the Scribes and the Pharisees. While Jesus was giving it hot to them, John the Baptist summoned courage to walk up to Herod, the King of the Jewish nation to tell him it was not right that he, a leader of the nation would marry his brother’s wife while his brother Philip was still alive. Herod was not only going against God’s commandment (Thou shall not commit adultery), he was showing a very bad example as leader of the nation.

In all honesty, none of us likes to be told the truth even when our conscience already echoes it. Whenever the truth hits us, we are always faced with two options; to silence the voice that speaks the truth or to silence our pride, admit our errors and change. Herod (just like the Scribes and Pharisees) chose the first option. He tried to silence John the Baptist by arresting him, but deep within him he knew John was speaking the truth. Herod would go to the Prison and listen to John the Baptist preach but like most of us, Herod failed to apply what John the Baptist was saying until it became too late.

Herod may have considered sending Herodias away and doing the right thing, but he kept postponing it. When you hear a good sermon, and fail to act on it, time will come when it might be too late. The time came when Herod celebrated his birthday and in a state of happiness, he made a promise not knowing it was going to cost him the head of John the Baptist. Herod was terribly ashamed at his action, but rather than upturn the promise, he was more interested in saving his face before his guests. His pride did not allow him realize that the little girl might have as well asked for his own head. He went ahead to give the order for John’s beheading.

What we know from this encounter is that Herod, as well as Herodias, never had peace afterwards. When Herod heard about the fame of Jesus, he tried to satisfy his restless conscience by saying that Jesus is the resurrected version of John the Baptist. He wished he could undo his mistake.

Some lessons we learn today are:

First, if I fail to accept correction but begin to fight the mouth that tells me the truth, the simple fact is that I will never know peace. Silencing the voice does not make the evil you do right.

Secondly, it is better to die for telling the truth than to support it with your silence. The greatest disaster of our age is not the presence of evil people but the indifference of good people.

Thirdly, speaking the truth entails speaking directly to those involved. John the Baptist spoke directly to Herod. He did not use his issue as a gossip-topic. Do not be a coward, if you cannot tell me my mouth is smelling, then keep quiet. Don’t go telling others.

Fourthly, the life of John the Baptist is a pointer to the fact that death is not the end of our life but a passage to a greater and better life.

Finally, learn to think before speaking otherwise you end up regretting it. Be a master of your emotions, in moments of anger, hold it. In moments of excitement, hold it. Learn the habit of speaking to God and hearing from Him before talking. Do not make promises you might never keep.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, increase my courage, Amen. St. John the Baptist, Pray for us.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Beheading of St. John the Baptist. Bible Study: 1 Thessalonians 3:7-13, Psalm 90 and Mark 6:17-29).


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