Beheading of St. John the Baptist. Bible Study: Jeremiah 1:17-19, Psalm 71:1-17 and Mark 6:17-29

“Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; because he had married her. For John said to Herod: “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him.” (Mark 6:17-19) 

Once upon a time, a popular musician sang: “If you stand for the truth, you will always stand alone.” Today, we are reminded that there is a price we must pay if we dare to speak the truth to others especially those in positions of authority.

In today’s first reading, God tells Jeremiah that He is ashamed of those who are too shy or too scared of speaking the truth to people. “Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.” There are some lessons for us today:

First, let us never be afraid of speaking the truth especially when we are completely certain of our facts. By keeping quiet in the face of evil, we actually partake in the sins of others. It is better to die for telling the truth than to support it with your silence. The greatest disaster of our age is not the presence of evil people but the indifference of good people.

Secondly, if I fail to accept correction but begin to fight the mouth that tells me the truth, the simple fact is that I will never know peace. Silencing the voice does not make the evil you do right. The death of John the Baptist did not legitimize the adulterous union of Herod and Herodias, it only made them murderers.

Thirdly, speaking the truth entails speaking directly to those involved. If you know I am a bad person, come to me and tell me to my face. Tell me my mouth is smelling, I will cry but I will not forget to brush my teeth next time. Don’t go telling other people about me. Only cowards believe that they can change others by gossiping about them.

Fourthly, let us learn to practice self-control. Herod was obviously not thinking straight when he promised even half his kingdom to a little girl. What if she had asked for his own head? Think before you speak. Be a master of your emotions. In moments of anger, hold it. In moments of excitement, hold it also. Learn the habit of speaking to God and hearing from him before talking. Avoid making promises.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, increase my courage. Amen. St. John the Baptist, pray for us.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you.