PASSION OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST
Mark, Chapter 6, Verse 20
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him.
Similarities are to be noted between Jesus and John the Baptist. Herod and Pilate, each in turn, acknowledges the holiness of life of one over whom he unjustly exercises the power of condemnation and death. The hatred of Herodias toward John parallels that of the Jewish leaders toward Jesus. After the deaths of John and of Jesus, well-disposed persons request the bodies of the victims of Herod and of Pilate in turn to give them respectful burial.
The Death of John and the Mission of the Twelve—Two More Stories in One
· Jesus sends the twelve disciples out in pairs and grants them an authority—control over demons. They are permitted a staff, but can carry no bread, purse, or money. They can wear sandals, but cannot take a second shirt.
· They're also supposed to stay in only one person's house for each city. If people do not receive them or listen to their pitch, they are to shake the dust off of their feet as they exit the city. With these instructions, the disciples go forth and proclaim repentance, just as their own teacher Jesus and John the Baptist before him did. They also exorcize demons and heal the ill just like their teacher, Jesus. The ever-increasing fame of Jesus draws the attention of Herod, who ruled over Galilee, but disagreements prevail over Jesus's identity.
· Some think Jesus works miracles because he's John the Baptist, who's returned from the dead, while others think he's the ancient prophet Elijah or another of the prophets of old, who've returned from the dead. Herod is certain that Jesus is John the Baptist, whom he had beheaded. Herod is plagued by guilt and is confident that John is haunting him. The narrator takes this occasion to update the story of John the Baptist. That John was arrested. John is in prison because Herod's wife Herodias had a vendetta against John.
· John criticized Herod for marrying Herodias, who was previously married to his brother Philip. This action is contrary to the Torah. Herodias was first married to another brother of Herod also named Herod, and Herod was not "king" of Galilee, but tetrarch, which was a title that lacked the preeminence of "king," even if the actual post guaranteed similar powers. Anyway, Herod protects John, whom he respects as a religious leader. He actually enjoys listening to John speak, even though he doesn't really get what he's saying. An impasse arises between Herodias, who wants John dead, and Herod, who likes the guy.
· Herodias finally makes her move during one of Herod's birthday parties, when all of the crème de la crème of the political elite were present. Herod's daughter Herodias danced before all of the guests, who enjoyed some pleasurable dinner theater.
· Everyone is so pleased that Herod repeatedly offers her on oath whatever she wants in payment, even up to half of his kingdom. The girl exits to confer with her mother Herodias, who requests the head of John the Baptist. The girl returns to the banquet, where she requests the head as her mother directed, but with her own gruesome twist. She wants not only the head, but the head on a platter.
· Upon hearing her request Herod grieves—after all, he liked John. Nonetheless, denying her would embarrass him in front of his guests. Herod orders the executioner to behead John. The executioner brings the head on a platter and gives it to the girl, who then gives it to her mother. John's disciples entomb his headless corpse. After this lengthy flashback, the narrator reports that the twelve's trip was a big success.
The Baptist and Christ asks us to not be afraid; remember that those who are controlled by the devil are always deathly afraid. Therefore, trust in Him and remember that according to the Talmud God says to us: With thy very wounds I will heal thee. If you are unhappy it is because of sin therefore seek the healing that Christ gives in the sacrament of confession and receive joyfully the Holy Eucharist.
Martyrdom of John the Baptist
The drunken oath of a king with a shallow sense of honor, a seductive dance and the hateful heart of a queen combined to bring about the martyrdom of John the Baptist. The greatest of prophets suffered the fate of so many Old Testament prophets before him: rejection and martyrdom. The “voice crying in the desert” did not hesitate to accuse the guilty, did not hesitate to speak the truth. But why? What possesses a man that he would give up his very life? This great religious reformer was sent by God to prepare the people for the Messiah. His vocation was one of selfless giving. The only power that he claimed was the Spirit of Yahweh. “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Scripture tells us that many people followed John looking to him for hope, perhaps in anticipation of some great messianic power. John never allowed himself the false honor of receiving these people for his own glory. He knew his calling was one of preparation. When the time came, he led his disciples to Jesus: “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’ The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus” (John 1:35-37). It is John the Baptist who has pointed the way to Christ. John’s life and death were a giving over of self for God and other people. His simple style of life was one of complete detachment from earthly possessions. His heart was centered on God and the call that he heard from the Spirit of God speaking to his heart. Confident of God’s grace, he had the courage to speak words of condemnation, repentance, and salvation.
Each of us has a calling to which we must listen. No one will ever repeat the mission of John, and yet all of us are called to that very mission. It is the role of the Christian to witness to Jesus. Whatever our position in this world, we are called to be disciples of Christ. By our words and deeds, others should realize that we live in the joy of knowing that Jesus is Lord. We do not have to depend upon our own limited resources but can draw strength from the vastness of Christ’s saving grace.
- Read more about this feast at Franciscan Media, CatholicSaints.Info and A Catholic Life.
- Read this article, St. John the Baptist: Martyr for Marriage.
- Watch this informational video at Gloria TV.
International Day against Nuclear Tests
The International Day against Nuclear Tests seeks to raise awareness about the negative effects of nuclear weapons and the need to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world. The day also serves to educate people everywhere about the need to ban nuclear weapon tests in order to ensure world safety. Since the first nuclear test in 1945, over 2,000 nuclear tests have been carried out and led to accidents, such as the Chernobyl, Ukraine accident of 1986, ending in tragedy, long-term radiation poisoning and atmospheric damage. International Day against Nuclear Tests was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2009. It is observed every year on the 29th of August, a day that commemorates the 1991 closure of the Soviet Semipalatinsk site, the world's largest nuclear testing facility, in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan.
International Day against Nuclear Tests Facts & Quotes
· The US, the Soviet Union and France have carried out the most nuclear tests over the past 6 decades, with 1,032, 715 and 210 respectively.
· The cost of the Manhattan Project, where the first nuclear bomb was ever built, is estimated to have cost $20 Billion.
· The total number of nuclear missiles built from the year 1951 to the present is 67,500.
· There is an estimated total of 16,400 nuclear weapons on Earth today.
· So long as nuclear weapons continue to exist, so will the temptation to threaten others with overwhelming military force. – Daisaku Ikeda, Buddhist philosopher, educator, author and anti-nuclear activist.
Top Events and Things to Do
· Watch a movie or documentary about nuclear disasters. Some suggestions are: The Day After (1983), Threads (1984), Trinity and Beyond (1995), Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and Seconds from Disaster: Meltdown at Chernobyl.
· Attend the meeting held by the president of the UN General Assembly by either going to the event in person or watching the recorded webcast.
· Read a book about nuclear issues in the world today. Some suggestions are: Contesting the Future of Nuclear Power (2011), In Mortal Hands (2009), and Nuclear or Not? Does Nuclear Power Have a Place in a Sustainable Energy Future? (2007).
· Spread awareness about the day by using the hashtag #InternationalDayAgainstNuclearWeapons, #notonuclear #againstnucleartests.
· Battle for the Soul of America-Day 14