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


Death of  John the Baptist

Today we commemorate the death of John the Baptist. John was to be the last prophet to herald the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah and like many of the prophets he was martyred for speaking the truth.

The recounting of the lead-up to his death depicts the on-going clash of truth vs. lies, good vs. evil, light vs. darkness, strength vs. weakness and life vs. death.

Herod was in awe of John as he saw him as a ‘good and upright man’ (Mark 6:20) and despite John chastising him about his marriage to Herodias he was fascinated to hear him speak. Herodias on the other hand was enraged by what John had to say and wanted him dead. In the end despite his good intentions to protect John, Herod was weak. His bravado to give his step-daughter whatever she desired, in front of distinguished guests, was reckless and when faced with the choice of rejecting her request for the head of John on a dish he capitulated so as not too loose face.

The truth has the ability to draw people to itself and at the same time to cause others to turn away from it. When faced with the truth which way to I turn? Do I seek it more and more or do I run away from it? Does its light cause me to grow or to fall away and die? Does it build me up or bring me down?

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6) and what he does and says brings about the reign of God on earth. As a disciple of Jesus I have a duty to learn from the Master and follow his ways.

Turning to the principles of Catholic Social Justice (human dignity, human equality, respect for life, the principles of association, participation, the common good, solidarity, subsidiarity, stewardship, the preferential option for the poor and the universal destination of goods) are ways of seeking, finding and proclaiming the truth. Standing up and telling them all that (God) commands (Jeremiah 1:17) will make me unpopular but looking to Jesus I have to stand by the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Victoria Raw is parishioner of Te Whetu O Te Moana, Star of the Sea Marlborough, NZ and is active in lay ministry.