Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist – Year B




Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist

Today’s Audio Mass Readings – Lectionary: 427/634

1st Reading – 2 THES 3:6-10, 16-18

We instruct you, brothers and sisters,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
to shun any brother
who walks in a disorderly way
and not according to the tradition they received from us.
For you know how one must imitate us.
For we did not act in a disorderly way among you,
nor did we eat food received free from anyone.
On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked,
so as not to burden any of you.
Not that we do not have the right.
Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you,
so that you might imitate us.
In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that
if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.

May the Lord of peace himself
give you peace at all times and in every way.
The Lord be with all of you.

This greeting is in my own hand, Paul’s.
This is the sign in every letter; this is how I write.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 128:1-2, 4-5

R. (1) Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Alleluia – MT 5:10

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MK 6:17-29

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.

Catholic Daily Reflections

Catholic Audio Reflections

Fidelity in Suffering

Memorial of the Passion of Saint 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. Matthew 6:25-27

This sad story, of the beheading of John the Baptist, reveals much to us. It reveals, above all, the mystery of evil in our world and God’s permissive will in allowing evil, at times, to flourish.

Why did God allow St. John to be beheaded? He was a great man. Jesus, Himself, said that there was no one born of woman greater than John the Baptist. And, yet, He allowed John to suffer this great injustice.

St. Teresa of Ávila once said to our Lord, “Dear Lord, if this is how You treat Your friends, it is no wonder You have so few!” Yes, God has clearly allowed those whom He loves to suffer greatly throughout history. What does this tell us?

First of all, we should not forget the obvious fact that the Father allowed the Son to suffer greatly and to be murdered in a horrific way. Jesus’ death was brutal and shocking. Does this mean the Father did not love the Son? Certainly not. So what does this mean?

The fact of the matter is that suffering is not a sign of the disfavor of God. If you suffer and are given no relief by God it is not because God has abandoned you. It is not that He does not love you. In fact, the opposite is most likely true.

John the Baptist’s suffering is, in fact, the greatest sermon he could have preached. It’s a witness to his unwavering love of God and his wholehearted commitment to the will of God. The “sermon” of John’s passion is powerful because he chose to stay faithful to our Lord despite the persecution he endured. And, from God’s perspective, John’s fidelity is infinitely more valuable than his continued physical life or the physical sufferings he endured.

Reflect, today, upon your own life. At times we carry some heavy cross and beg our Lord to take it from us. Instead, God tells us that His grace is sufficient and that He wishes to use our sufferings as a testimony of our fidelity. So, the Father’s response to Jesus, His response to John and His response to us is a call to enter into the mystery of our sufferings in this life with faith, hope, confidence and fidelity. Never let the hardships of life deter you from your fidelity toward the will of God.

Lord, may I have the strength of Your Son and the strength of St. John the Baptist as I carry my own crosses in life. May I remain strong in faith and filled with hope as I hear You calling me to embrace my cross. Jesus, I trust in You.

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