“God gives us not only the truth but also the ability to believe it; not only the new thing to see but also the new eye to see it with.”― Peter Kreeft (professor of philosophy at Boston College)
Gospel text (Mk 6,17-29): Herod had sent to have John arrested, and had him chained up in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife whom he had married. For John had told him, «It is not right for you to live with your brother's wife». So Herodias held a grudge against John and wanted to kill him, but she could not because Herod respected John. He knew John to be an upright and holy man and kept him safe. And he liked listening to him, although he became very disturbed whenever he heard him. Herodias had her chance on Herod's birthday, when he gave a dinner for all the senior government officials, military chiefs and the leaders of Galilee. On that occasion the daughter of Herodias came in and danced; and she delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, «Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you». And he went so far as to say with many oaths, «I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom». She went out to consult her mother, «What shall I ask for?». The mother replied, «The head of John the Baptist». The girl hurried to the king and made her request: «I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish». The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of the bodyguards with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother. When John's disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.
Today we remember the beheading of John the Baptist, who died as a martyr for the truth he preached to those around him. With the horrific events occurring now in the world around us, I find it difficult to think about John the Baptist so many years ago. Yet the common thread over the years is that martyrs still die making choices every day. At the heart of our lives, in the midst of the signs of our times, we all make choices in every present moment which impact our lives and the lives of others.
The choices we have before us are not mysterious or complex. The choices in the present moment are simple and clearly flow from the river of God's love and compassion within our hearts, preached by Jesus in the gospels and affirmed in creation and in the world's religious approaches to God.
Love over hate.
Inclusion over exclusion.
Friendship over enmity.
Compassion over cruelty.
Sharing over selfishness.
Love over all.
John the Baptist made his choice and suffered the consequences. Jesus made his choice and suffered the consequences. What consequences am I suffering for what choices?
The question is clear. I must reflect and pray today over the answer.