Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gospel Reflection

August 29, 2012
The Passion of St. John the Baptist (Memorial)
by Rev. Fr. Joel Jason
Dean, Graduate School of Theology
San Carlos Seminary
(Lunch Mass at Megamall)

First Reading:               Jeremiah 1:17-19Psalm:                         Psalm 71:1-6, 15, 17
Gospel:                        Mark 6:17-29    

17 For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Hero'di-as, his brother Philip's wife; because he had married her. 18 For John said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." 19 And Hero'di-as had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Hero'di-as' daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it." 23 And he vowed to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom." 24 And she went out, and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" And she said, "The head of John the baptizer." 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.


Today, we hear and we celebrate in this Eucharist the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, who was beheaded because he spoke the truth. I don't think anyone of us hear will be beheaded, or anyone of us here will suffer a red martyrdom when we have to shed our blood, but you know, we are going there. Pope Benedict said that "nowadays, to be a Christian is to be ready to suffer a different kind of martyrdom. And it is called a "white martyrdom".

What is "white martyrdom"? It is to continue to hold on to the truth despite pressure all around us - pressure from the law, pressure from the mass media, pressure from many things all around us. We must be courageous and ready to stand up for what is true and to suffer ridicule, whenever we speak of the truth.

That is what happened in the Gospel. John the Baptist told Herod "It is wrong for you to live with your brother's wife". Herodias resented it. And Herodias had the opportunity when one day, on on occasion, when Herodias' daughter danced, Herold liked it very much that he promised the girl that he will give anything that she asks of him. When the daughter asked her mother, Herodias requested for the head of John the Baptist. And because of his promise, Herod ordered the beheading of John.

It was John the Baptist who lost his head. But when you come to think of it, it was actually Herod who lost his head due to vice. John the Baptist lost his head because of virtue. 

Siguro sa misang ito magandang tanungin ho natin - Do you still have your head with you? Of course, I am talking figuratively - wala naman akong nakikitang tao dito na naglalakad na pugot ang ulo. But do you still have your head up on your shoulders? Are you still in control of yourself, or are you a slave of vice? Because whenever we are a slave of vice, we are slowly but surely also losing our head and we are losing control. And it is in this context that the Gospel is challenging us that we should hold on to what is true, good and beautiful, in spite of what we have all around us. We must be ready to suffer a certain kind of martyrdom to hold on to the truth.

I received a text message which said, "Unless one has that which is above him, it will be very easy for him to fall or give in to anything that is around him". For John the Baptist, it was JESUS who was above him. Let that be the same for each and everyone of us. Let Christ and His teaching be that which is above us, so that we may speak the truth and be strong, despite that which goes around us, Amen. 

St. John the Baptist – Pray for us