King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”
For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him.
When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias 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 give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her.
Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Celebrating the memorial of St. Paul Miki and his Jesuit companions, we recall the life of John the Baptist. John is one of the greatest figures in Christianity not only because he preached about a baptism of repentance, but mainly because he is a precursor to Jesus and insisted on announcing that another would come after him. Today´s gospel accounts for the consequences of John´s actions and words that led him to be executed, in spite of the fact that Herod feared John and acknowledged his righteousness and holiness.
John is a herald, who teaches us what it means to be followers of Christ. So was Paul Miki, who together with his Jesuit martyr companions, was put to death for having preached the gospel in the Far East and searching out people who were most in need.
As we recall the memories of these courageous people who bravely announced God´s love, let us remember that mission is a key element of Christian life. Our faith calls us to save the world with the same prompt response of our martyrs and the love that God shows for us. Are we willing to journey wherever God sends us? Perhaps today we can take the first step of that extra mile.
—Fr. Hugo Nelson Gomez-Sevilla is a Jesuit from Colombia, currently pursuing graduate studies in educational leadership at Loyola University Chicago.
Martyrdom is a grace from God I don’t believe I deserve. But if God accepts the sacrifice of my life, my blood will become the seed of freedom and the sign that hope will soon become a reality.
—Archbishop Óscar Romero (1917-1980)Please share the Good Word with your friends!