SATURDAY HOMILY: The Heedless
LONG BEACH, CA (Catholic Online) - During this time of Advent, the Church shines a spotlight on St. John the Baptist as witnessed by his frequent appearances in the Gospel readings this past week and once again in today's Gospel.
Artistic depictions of the Baptist, both on canvas and on the big screen, give a picture of a fiery, wild-eyed ascetic yelling at sinners, "Repent." This caricature, like all caricatures, is an exaggeration.
John the Baptist was an ascetic and a powerful preacher. But I would argue that he definitely was not an angry man who yelled at sinners. If he was angry at all, he wasn't angry at sinners. Rather, he was angry at sin. Would that all Christians were as upset with sin as was St. John the Baptist!
His message was strong and yet multitudes flocked to hear him and to be baptized by him. Even Herod Antipas whom John had publicly denounced for living in sin with his brother Philip's wife (who was also Herod's own niece) was drawn to him. "When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him" (St. Mark 6:20)
In contrast, his "partner," Herodias, loathed John because he had called them out for their sin. John told Herod: "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife" (St. Mark 6:18). Herodias hated John for this and wanted to kill him and eventually had her way.
In Herod and Herodias we see two distinct reactions to the preaching of John. Herod, although "perplexed" by the Baptist's message, took pleasure in listening to him. This leads me to wonder if John the Baptist's life had not ended so soon whether Herod might have eventually converted. On this we can only speculate.
What is clear is that Herod was unfazed by the Baptist's indictment against him and Herodias. The only reason he put John in prison in the first place was to placate her.
Herod's impassivity toward John's rebuke is explainable when one considers the unspeakable sins and atrocities that Herod had witnessed while growing up in the uber dysfunctional household of his deranged and murderous father, Herod the Great.
The elder Herod executed countless numbers of his subjects and royal household as well as his wife, Mariame, and three of his sons. It was also this Herod who was responsible for the massacre of the Holy Innocents whose feast we will celebrate on December 28. Given this family history, Herod's marriage to his brother's wife must have scarcely seemed a sin.
As we have noted, Herodias' reaction to John's reproof was anything but passive. She harbored a deep hatred for John and would not rest until he was finally silenced once and for all. Fact is what she really hated was the truth of which John was merely the messenger.
As Christians, we are called to be messengers of the truth. And if we fulfill this task we will meet the likes of Herod and Herodias. Some will listen to us and remain indifferent. Others will take offense at us even if we have done our best to "speak the truth in love."
To my knowledge, one of the best ways to gain experience as a messenger of the truth is to stand and quietly pray on the sidewalk in front of an abortion mill. You don't need to bring anything with you except maybe your Rosary beads. It isn't even essential that you bring a pro-life sign or even literature.
Just stand there and pray. Soon enough you will meet the heedless Herods and the hateful Herodiases. If you're normal, the former will frustrate you and the latter will infuriate you. At that moment, think of the Baptist and ask him to help you and to help them.
As the world grows darker and evil appears to be gaining ground, God needs more John the Baptists, more faithful witnesses to the truth. Will you answer the call?
Let us turn to Holy Mary, the Queen of Martyrs, asking for her help and protection.
Fr. G. Peter Irving III is a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and is Pastor of Holy Innocents Church, Long Beach, California.
Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for AUGUST 2017
Artists. That artists of our time, through their ingenuity, may help everyone discover the beauty of creation.
The heart is the center of a person, the place from which he/she makes the choices which will affect the world within them and around them. ... continue reading
The consideration of Jesus' baptism, gives us an opportunity to remember our own baptism. If you do not know the date of your own ... continue reading
I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. HYTHE, ... continue reading
The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables ... continue reading
It is not accidental that the Bible, from beginning to the end, uses marriage as a metaphor and a symbol to reveal the plan of God for the ... continue reading
by Catholic Online
- BREAKING: Terror attack in Barcelona leaves at least 13 dead, dozens ...
- Article V could be invoked. Here's what you need to know about it HD ...
- St. Helena: Saint of the Day for Friday, August 18, 2017
- Ten year old girl gives birth following rape in India
- Daily Readings for Friday, August 18, 2017
- Feeling down? Here's how to change YOUR LIFE and THE WORLD from Navy ...
- Charlie Gard's mother opens up about the beautiful life of terminally ...
- Daily Reading for Saturday, August 19th, 2017 HD
- Pro-life wins in Texas with new law to protect religious freedom and the unborn HD
- Should history be rewritten to appease the angry? HD
- Daily Reading for Friday, August 18th, 2017 HD