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The Passion of Saint John the Baptist

The Passion of Saint John the Baptist
  • Century: -
  • Patronage: -
  • Feast Day: August 29th

The Church celebrates the passion of St. John the Baptist who died approximately A.D. 30.  We know from the Bible that he was the cousin of Jesus, the son of St. Elizabeth, and also the nephew of our Lady.  King Herod knew that John was a holy man, and he liked to hear John’s words, although he didn’t take them to heart.  He knew that he had to get control of him because of the crowds he was starting to build.  He was afraid to kill him, so instead he had him imprisoned. 

According to the Gospels, Herod had imprisoned John because he spoke out about Herod divorcing his wife, and unlawfully taking the wife of his brother.  On Herod’s birthday, his new wife’s daughter danced before the king and his guests.  Her dancing pleased Herod so much that in his drunkenness he promised to give her anything she desired, up to half of his kingdom.  When the daughter asked her mother what she should ask for, she was told to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.  Herod was appalled by the request but reluctantly agreed and had John the Baptist executed in prison.  St. John the Baptist was beheaded, and his head was placed on a platter and given to Herod’s daughter.    

Herod also feared that St. John’s influence and power over the people might cause a rebellion. Over time, Herod had suffered military disaster at the hands of Aretas his father-in-law, and many believed it was God’s punishment for his unrighteous behavior, and for taking the life of John the Baptist.  

Practical Take Away

St. John the Baptist spoke the truth with great courage in calling others to a true change of heart, and to embrace the ways of God.  He did this not only by preaching, but also by example.  He fasted in the desert, and prepared the way for Jesus.  He had such a great courage, that he wasn’t fearful of speaking out about the immoral activities of his day.  This was the reasoning that led to his death, but he continued.  We can learn a lot from his life.  We too, can embrace the ways of God and speak out of the immorality of our day, and with the help of St. John the Baptist, we can prepare the way for Jesus to those around us.