The Gospel reading from the Mass for the Memorial of the Passion of St. John the Baptist is Mark 6:14-29.

After murdering Christ’s forerunner, John the Baptist, and hearing about the many miracles of Christ Jesus, Herod the Tetrarch is full of anxiety and wonders if John has reincarnated in Jesus. Of course, there is no such thing as reincarnation; Herod, enslaved in evil, is swayed by every anxiety, unable to receive the peace and joy of Christ because of his own unbelief.

John was a powerful prophet of miraculous birth who lived an austere and rugged life in the desert. John courageously came to Herod and condemned Herod’s marriage to brother’s wife, Herodias, as unlawful. Herod was intrigued by John, but locked John up to silence him. Herod was a vile and corrupt character: he had an adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife (who was also Herod’s niece); he, perhaps fueled by gluttonous consumption of wine, pridefully made oaths as he lusted over his grand-niece; cowardly, unwilling to break his lust oath, he beheads the innocent John the Baptist. Grotesquely, he had John the Baptist’s head brought on a platter to his birthday feast. Herod is an anti-Christ.

After Herod beheaded St. John the Baptist (A.D. 31 or 32), the Baptist’s disciples buried John’s body in a tomb in a Catholic shrine, later converted by conquering Muslims into the Nabi Yahya Mosque, now ironically in the Israel occupied Palestinian territory. Relics of John’s body are also venerated in several other locations in the Middle East. Tradition holds that John the Baptist’s head is located at the Basilica of San Silvestro in Capite in Rome where it continues to be venerated. St. John the Baptist is the patron saint of baptism.

Awed by Jesus Christ – The Son of God, Christ’s miracles are recognized by one of the greatest men, John the Baptist, and even by His enemies. Divine King, Christ is unmoved by the desires of the trivial King Herod to see Him.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Reflect on the truth that evil men fear Christ; Herod the Great is so fearful of the newborn Christ that he “Slaughters the Innocents” and his son, Herod the Tetrarch, also has deep fear of Christ.

2) St. John the Baptist was a man who lived a rigorous and courageous life, dying in defense of marriage. Reflect on the Virtue of Fortitude (CCC 1805, 1808) and pray for Christ to help you grow in fortitude like John the Baptist.  St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

3) In the day-to-day battle of life, men can forget about the powerful champions Christ has given men in the Saints. Renew your understanding of the Communion of the Saints (CCC 946-962, 2683) and pray for Christ to help you to be strengthened by your patron Saint(s) (CCC 2165, 2156) and those Saints who can help you prevail over your life challenges.