The Passion of John the Baptist


Venerable Bede has a thoughtful homily on the death of John the Baptist, whose head was cut off by order of Herod, at the prompting of his wife Herodias. The story told in Mark 6 is a dramatic tale of revenge and loyalty, and we celebrate it today as a feast of the church. The Church calls it “The Passion of John the Baptist” because it’s like the Passion of Jesus.

Bede says John’s story was noticed by heaven, where things are judged differently than here on earth.  If John had remained silent about Herod’s conduct, perhaps he could have gained a few peaceful years of life.

“His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say: I am the truth?”

John’s death prefigured the death of Jesus Christ, Bede says; because of the values both of them valued, they were unjustly killed.

He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men; he was locked away in the darkness of prison, though he came bearing witness to the Light of life.”

But heaven notices– not the span of our lives– but how we live them, speaking the truth.


Filed under Religion

2 responses to “The Passion of John the Baptist

  1. jim

    sOMETIMES it is very hard to speak the truth, when the crowd is moving
    the other way, this is especially true today when we talk about the rights of
    citizens and immigrants…there needs to be a balance, but more there needs
    to be truth…when we vet new people coming here to live. Today in Italy some of the migrants accepted there are now working in the rubble
    of the earthquake to help rebuild and possibly save more lives.
    one newsperson asked an immigrant why they were doing this…
    he answered “Italy was most kind in welcoming us, and now this
    part of Italy needs us in truth , so we are helping our new country”
    does not truth ” pop up ” in the most amazing places.

  2. What matters is– not the span of our lives– but how we live them, speaking the truth. This reminds me of the dash, the ~~~ line we see between the birth date and date of death on grave markers. The dash is the time we lived life and that’s the time we have to love God and others.

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