YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE MEMORIAL OF THE PASSION OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
HOMILY THEME: THE HEAD OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu
_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 wordings 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 the courage to correct your king, your leader or even your Priest/Pastor. For the last two days, we have read about how Jesus gave it very hot to the Scribes and the Pharisees describing them as hypocrites. We all know that these Scribes and Pharisees had a difficult time accepting the truth and their immediate response was to plan the elimination of Jesus.
In all honesty, none of us likes to be told the truth especially by those we consider to be below us in any way. We are always faced with two options; to silence the voice that speaks the truth or to silence our pride and admit our errors. While the first option is most popular and in fact easier, the second option is the only option available to any true believer in Christ.
What we know from this encounter is that Herod, as well as Herodias, never had peace afterwards. In fact, the killing of John the Baptist was just a footnote to the report of how Herod heard about the fame of Jesus and in an attempt to satisfy his restless conscience tried to convince himself that Jesus is the resurrected version of John the Baptist. In other words, Herod strongly wished he could undo his actions, he wished day and night that he could turn back the hand of the clock; he wished he could raise John the Baptist back to life.
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. Truth never dies no matter how much we deny it. The death of John the Baptist did not legitimize the marriage between Herod and his own brother’s wife. It only made them adulterers and murderers. Is there someone you are keeping malice with right now? Someone, you wish was dead? Someone you often talk about in a very negative light all because he or she told you the truth? Think twice, leave the person and enter into the truth.
In today’s first reading, God tells Jeremiah that He is ashamed of those who are too shy or too scared of speaking the truth to people. “Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.” Let’s face it, if you speak the truth, you will die but even if you don’t speak the truth, will you live forever? Let us never be afraid of speaking the truth especially when we are completely certain of our facts. By keeping quiet in the face of evil, we actually partake in the sins of others.
Secondly, speaking the truth also entails speaking directly to those involved. If you know I am a bad person, come to me and tell me face to face, if possible use the Nathan method, tell me a story and conclude with, “You are the one I am talking about.” Tell me my mouth is smelling, I will cry but I will not forget to brush my teeth next time. Don’t go telling other people about me, using me as a gossip-topic when you have not been able to tell me my flaws. (It is sad how people come to you praising you in your face only to go behind you and run you down).
You may assume I know my flaws but you see, everyone has a blind spot. I may be doing something bad and thinking nobody knows about it feeling secure in my evil. The day you will mention it, that day I will repent. If you cannot tell me my sins to my face, it means you are only assuming and by talking about me to others, it means you don’t want me to change, you are only interested in destroying my name. Never entertain gossips, be wary of those who run others down, you also will not be spared.
Thirdly, the words of that musician with which we began this reflection are not true. Yes, if you stand for the truth, you will never stand alone; God stands for you. It only takes faith to believe the words God spoke to Jeremiah. “They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you to deliver you.” What are you scared of? Go on, tell him or her the truth today lest you will go to hell for partaking in that sin by keeping quiet! God always fights for us, even it means rewarding us with the direct access to heaven in the process. So don’t worry.
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: Jeremiah 1:17-19, Psalm 71:1-17 and Mark 6:17-29).