Memorial of the Passion of John the Baptist
(II Thessalonians 3:6-10.16-18; Mark 6:17-29)
Ugo Betti, an Italian jurist and playwright, once wrote, “…there is nothing sadder than a human being who feels worthless for we all aspire to be just the opposite, to be important.” It is a true sentiment because humans are created in the image of God. However, in striving for importance, one should not transgress the goodness of another as today’s gospel demonstrates.
King Herod has John the Baptist executed to avoid being seen as or a liar or a coward. As he promised his stepdaughter anything that she asks, he feels compelled to deliver the head of John as she requests. Ironically he shows himself as more of a coward than he would have appeared if he told the girl that he could not take John’s life. Courage would have fortified Herod to do what is right even in the face of reproach.
John the Baptist shows true courage by speaking the truth of a public scandal. He put his life on the line because he believed that people look up to public officials. When the latter act outrageously, their actions should be repudiated.