The Passion of Saint John the Baptist
MARTYR FOR TRUTH
* We commemorate today the martyrdom of John the Baptist.
→ Venerable Bede gives us an important and challenging
reflection about Saint John’s martyrdom. He says,
“John’s persecutor did not demand that he should deny Christ
but only that he should remain quiet about the truth.”
+ “That truth was the fact of the immorality of Herod’s marriage.”
→ John the Baptist was a martyr for the truth.
* We can apply Venerable Bede’s words to ourselves.
→ Few of us will be called upon to engage in an open denial of Christ.
→ But we are called upon every day to take a stand for the truth,
for decency and integrity in government,
for honesty and fairness in business,
for morality and propriety in media.
→ These gospel values are the truths for which
we are called to give witness.
→ They are the places where we can take our stand
for the kingdom of God.
* Today, if we speak the truth – if we talk about the sacredness of life,
if we make a stand against extra-judicial killings and the death penalty,
if we strive to promote peace that is based on social justice –
we will not have an armed guard beating down our door to arrest us.
→ The persecution we may experience today is more subtle.
- It may be done through the loss of employment
or the denial of promotion at work.
- It may be done through cyber bullying, trolling
or bashing on social media.
- It may be done through character assassination.
→ These can cause suffering as surely as physical assault.
* I agree with Joseph Krempa who said that there are sectors of our society
that love a devotional Catholicism that never leaves the four corners of the church.
→ These same forces will vehemently and even violently attack
and slander a Church that “gets involved” or “meddles”
in political affairs with moral implications.
* There are many ways of being a martyr for Christ.
→ Witness to the truth is one way.
→ There are also paths of witness to the gospel values
of integrity and honesty, of meekness and humility,
of mercy and compassion, of justice and peace.
Although we may be willing to announce our faith in Christ,
are we willing to stand for the gospel values
about which the Lord preached?
→ With John the Baptist, we must be willing to do so.