Today's Gospel: Mark 6:17-29
Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist
Sometimes speaking Truth requires death; for St. John the Baptist, it meant a literal martyrdom, but for us it most likely means self-denial, perhaps rejection from others or ridicule and calumny. It’s amazing how such an eccentric Biblical prophet who paved the way for Jesus to arrive at the apex of His ministry could somehow teach us a very relevant, moral example for our own lives. St. John the Baptist not only prophesied hope to a desolate people over two thousand years ago, but he speaks of fortitude and courage to us today.
On how many occasions have I ignored the beckoning from the Holy Spirit to speak up? It seems too easy to permit fear to invade the place in my soul where Truth dwells. I know it and believe it, but when the time arrives for me to actually prove my integrity, I am rendered paralyzed by this crippling terror.
What is the origin of my fear? Perhaps I am afraid to confront someone because I do not want to risk rejection. I value people’s opinions of me too highly. I do not want to be labeled a fanatic or freak, and I do not want to stand out in a manner that is uncomplimentary at best, and at worst, ostracized. Maybe I’m comfortable living my faith more privately rather than in public affairs. It’s much easier to continue my life’s odyssey without rocking the boat on current, hot-button issues, isn’t it?
Today St. John the Baptist challenges us to think differently. His life was one set apart from the world – a desert spirituality – and his death completed the mission he was meant to fulfill. From proclaiming the hope of the long-awaited Messiah to villagers to calling out the sin committed by Herod, St. John the Baptist did not fear the opinion or response of humanity to his call to evangelization.
We live in an epoch that requires a commissioning of all faithful followers of Christ. In some way, all of us are called to follow in St. John the Baptist’s footsteps. We are asked to step out of our familiar, comfortable lives and into the trenches of poverty, injustice, war-torn nations, and essentially the culture of death. If we are to truly be salt and light, reflections of the Light of the World, then we must not stand idly by as the intensity of secularism invades our world. Now, today is the time we must consider the spiritual charisms and natural gifts we possess and how best we can use them to bring hope into a hurting world.
Do I live the truth in my everyday life? How can I respond to the suffering of humanity in my community by being a beacon of hope and truth to others? Perhaps I can bring my fears to Jesus in prayer today and in the Sacrament of Confession if they have become embedded sins in my life.
St. John the Baptist, pray for me to live and speak the truth of the Gospel without fear of any human repercussions. Teach me through your example to grow in fortitude and zeal. Assist me as I discern the ways in which God is calling me to respond to the culture of death in our society so that I may continue to walk in truth even to my death. Amen.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing
About the Author
Jeannie Ewing believes the world ignores and rejects the value of the Cross. She writes about the hidden value of suffering and even discovering joy in the midst of grief. As a disability advocate, Jeannie shares her heart as a mom of two girls with special needs in Navigating Deep Waters and is the author of From Grief to Grace , A Sea Without A Shore , and Waiting with Purpose. Jeannie is a frequent guest on Catholic radio and contributes to several online and print Catholic magazines. She, her husband, and three daughters live in northern Indiana. For more information, please visit her website lovealonecreates.com.