Today’s memorial commemoration used to be referred to as the Martyrdom of John the Baptist, but the name has been changed to the Passion of John the Baptist, which is similar to the way we refer to the Passion Of Jesus. We think about how passionate John the Baptist is in proclaiming the Kingdom of God and in paving the way for Jesus. One of my professors in seminary, and many other Old Testament Scripture scholars, believe that John the Baptist was raised in the community of the Essenes, that mystical Jewish community that lived near the Dead Sea and that produced the Dead Sea Scrolls. John was the last in the line of the prophets who brought God’s message to the people of Israel and who were precursors for Jesus’ life and ministry.
Herod had a lot of respect for John the Baptist, for he knew him to be a righteous man. Yet, Herod feared John the Baptist because Herod knew that he preached the truth. Speaking the truth cost John the Baptist his life, but he had the courage to not back down from the mission God gave to him. The prophets of our Christian faith today have the same courage and tenacity. We hear Pope Francis being very bold and courageous in the way he is challenging the secular world today.
May we all be able to emulate John the Baptist in the way we live out our faith. May we boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives through our words and our actions, in truth and in love. At some point, all of us will have to pay a cost for our faith. May we be not afraid to do so.