Posted August 28, 2013 by FLL Editorial Team in

The Passion of Saint John the Baptist

Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. 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.

She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias’ own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
Mark 6:17-29

The beheading of John the Baptist signifies the lessening of that fame, by which he was thought to be Christ by the people, as the raising of our Savior on the cross represents the advance of the faith, in that Jesus Himself, who was first looked upon as a prophet by the multitude, was recognized as the Son of God by all the faithful; where John, who was destined to decrease, was born when the daylight begins to shorten; but the Lord was born at that season of the year in which the day begins to lengthen.

One cannot, without the greatest wonder, reflect that he, who was filled even in his mother’s womb with the spirit of prophecy, and then was the greatest that had arisen amongst those born of women, is sent into prison by wicked men, is beheaded for the dancing of a girl, and though a man of so great austerity, meets death through such a foul instrument. Are we to suppose that there was something evil in his life, to have wiped away by so incomprehensible a death? When, however, could he commit a sin even in his eating, whose food was only locusts and wild honey? How could he offend in his conversation, who never left the wilderness? How is it that Almighty God so despises in this life those whom He has so sublimely chosen before all ages, if it be not for the reason, when is plain to the piety of the faithful, that He thus sinks them into the lowest place, because he sees how he is rewarding them in the highest, and outwardly He throws them down amongst things despised, because inwardly he draws them up even to incomprehensible things. Let each then infer from us what they shall suffer, whom he rejects, if he so grieves those whom he loves.

FLL Editorial Team