Beheading of John the Baptist – 29 August

Beheading of John the Baptist – St. John the Baptist was a cousin of Jesus. His mother was St. Elizabeth and his father was Zechariah. The first chapter of Luke’s Gospel tells of the wonderful event of John’s birth. Mark’s Gospel, chapter 6, verses 14–29, records the cruel details of John the Baptist’s death.

King Herod had married his brother’s wife, Herodias. John told Herod that this was wrong. But Herod and Herodias did not want to hear how they stood with God. They wanted to make their own rules. St. John the Baptist had to pay the price for his honesty. Yet he would have had it no other way. He would never have kept silent in the face of sin and injustice. His mission was to call people to repentance and he wanted everyone to be reconciled to God.

Herodias held a grudge against John, and when she had the chance, she arranged to have him beheaded. What harsh consequences John accepted for teaching the truth.

John had preached a baptism of repentance, preparing people for the Messiah. He baptized Jesus in the Jordan River and watched with quiet joy as the Lord’s public ministry began. John encouraged his own disciples to follow Jesus. He knew that Jesus’ fame would grow, while his would fade away. In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, St. John the Baptist calls himself a voice crying in the desert to make straight the path of the Lord. He invited people to get ready, to prepare themselves to recognize the Messiah. His message is the same to each of us.