Today’s gospel Matt 14:1-12 was the martyrdom of St John the Baptist (see bottom of page). In my few words, I remarked that the Baptist wasn’t killed because he proclaimed Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Neither was he killed because he said that Jesus would come back from the dead, ascend into heaven, and remain truly present on earth in something that appears to the five senses as bread. No, he was killed because of his proclamation of God’s truth about marriage. Herod who was in an illicit relationship, didn’t like that truth.
Now 2000 years later there is still many who don’t like God’s truth about marriage: namely, that it is a life long union of a man and woman which is open to the procreation of children. Let us strive to be witnesses to God’s plan for married life as the Baptist was, convinced that God’s ways are ultimately the best way for human flourishing.
Here is an article from the current edition of the Alive! Newspaper on marriage entitled “Natural Love isn’t enough in Marriage”. It has a general application to the Christian life, even apart from marriage.
Herod the tetrarch heard about the reputation of Jesus, and said to his court, ‘This is John the Baptist himself; he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.’
Now it was Herod who had arrested John, chained him up and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife:. For John had told him, ‘It is against the Law for you to have her.’ He had wanted to kill him but was afraid of the people, who regarded John as a prophet. Then, during the celebrations for Herod’s birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and so delighted Herod that he promised on oath to give her anything she asked. Prompted by her mother she said, ‘Give me John the Baptist’s head, here, on a dish.’ The king was distressed but, thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, he ordered it to be given her, and sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought in on a dish and given to the girl who took it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went off to tell Jesus.