August 29, 2016

John the Baptist's passion

August 29, 2016:  Passion (Beheading) of John the Baptist

  • Crucifix:  "I resolved to know only Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1st reading)
  • 'Owl' tie pin:  "My message demonstrated God's spirit and power... so your faith might not rest on human wisdom..." (1st reading)
  • 'Sheet music with skulls as note heads' tie:  dance, then beheading (gospel)
  • 'Headless skeleton' tie bar:  John's beheading (gospel)
  • 'Silverware' tie bar:  Herod's birthday banquet (gospel)
  • '?' tie pin:  Herod was perplexed when he heard John; "What shall I ask for?"  (gospel)
  • 'Blood drop' pin, red shirt:  John's martyrdom, color of today's celebration
  • DISC t-shirt:  I'm in Springfield helping to plan DISC 2017; watch for updates
  • Paper clip:  Unfortunately I needed it to reset my laptop this morning

  • Dance of the Seven Veils, from Salome/ Strauss fits the gospel; find one yourself if you can tolerate possible adult content.
Pope Francis Amoris Laetitia capsule:  Marrying for Love
Marriage gives the means to ensure the growth and endurance of love.  Love is more than outward consent or a contract, but giving marriage a visible form by making commitments shows its importance, manifesting the seriousness of their decision to leave individualism behind and belong to one another. Marriage expresses that we've left the security of the home we grew up in to build other ties and take on new responsibility for another person.  It's more meaningful than spontaneous association for mutual gratification, which would turn marriage into a private affair.  Marriage protects and shapes a shared commitment to one another and to deeper growth in love, for the good of society; that's why it's so important.  It derives from our human nature and social character.  It involves obligations born of love so serious and generous that it's ready to face any risk.

Choosing marriage expresses a decision to join paths, come what may. This serious public commitment of love can't come hastily, nor can it be postponed indefinitely.  Committing exclusively and definitively to a person is risky, but unwillingness to do so is selfish and calculating; it doesn't acknowledge the other's rights or present them to society as someone worthy of unconditional love.  When two are in love, they show others.  Love expressed in the public marriage contract indicates and protects the “yes” the couple speaks freely to each other.  The “yes” tells them they can always trust one another won't be abandoned when difficulties arise or new attractions or interests present themselves. (IV:131-132)
  • 1 Cor 2:1-5  I didn't proclaim the mystery of God with sublime words or wisdom I resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I came in weakness, fear, and trembling, but my message demonstrated spirit and power, so your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on God's power.
  • Ps 119:97-102  "Lord, I love your commands."  I meditate on them; they've made me wise.  From every evil way I withhold my feet...
  • Mk 6:17-29  John the Baptist to Herod:  “It's wrong for you to have your brother’s wife [Herodias].”  She had a chance to get him killed at his birthday banquet:  her daughter danced, delighted Herod, asked for John's head.  He had him beheaded; John's disciples buried him.
    • Creighton:  Herod lived in a time and place where everyone knew that he lived in immorality.  Though people were offended at his marriage to his sister-in-law, it was his own secret fears and conflicting desires that led to John's beheading.  Herod was drawn to John the Baptist him but also feared him.  Perhaps he was fascinated with John and his speak the truth, but he refused to see the truth of his life or probe his desires or conflicts.  He chose to honor his oath to Herodias’s daughter and save face over regarding John’s life.  His secrets blinded him.
    Willingness to be vulnerable and disclose our fears and desires saves us from blindness and immorality.  We meet others, and God wants to meet us, in our weakness and fear.  By bringing them into the light we're freed from fear of judgment and shame and become more human, whole, and free to make lifegiving decisions.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Head lines":  It only took a dancing girl, her mom, and her insecure dad's weakness and pride to buy the head of the greatest prophet before Christ.  The Lord greatly valued John's head, but the rulers valued it little.  Today Christians are being beheaded in the Middle East for their faith, though Jesus cherishes even the hair on our heads.  Jesus allowed his head to be pierced, and God changed his pain to glory....
      Salome with the Head of John the Baptist
    • Passionist:  “What's your super power?” is a question that helps us think about the special gift ('charism') God has given us to assist others and build up the Body of Christ.  John the Baptist knew his was to proclaim the Messiah's coming.  He put his life on the line to speak truth, confronting Herod Antipas about his marriage to his brother’s wife.  The king couldn't stand up to the truth when his wife asked for John's head; he didn't humble himself and say no, seeming weak, not keeping his promise.
      We need to know what to do with the power given to us.  Today's readings give us two examples:  using it for a greater good may cost us, or using it to make us “king of the hill” may trample others and ignore truth on our way up.  Society tells us it's OK to climb our way up at others' expense.  Our faith says we can all climb together, helping each other build up the Body of Christ.  What are your talents, and how are you using them?
      •  "Herod feared John, a righteous and holy man":  John the Baptist bridged the Old and New Testaments, pointing the way to the Messiah.  John suffered violence for announcing God's kingdom.  King Herod had all he wanted except a clear conscience.  He respected John as a prophet and servant of God, but John rebuked him for his adulterous relationship, and Herod had him imprisoned, then beheaded.  Herod's power was badly flawed; he favored pleasing others over doing right.  His taking a strong stand on the wrong things was a sign of weakness.  The Lord gives strength and courage to those who acknowledge their dependence on him.  He knows our weaknesses better than we, pardons and heals those who ask, and guides us.
      God's kingdom has suffered violence and persecution from John's time till now.  Martyrs' testimony to the truth and willingness to suffer and die for their faith prove victory.  They know with the "eyes of faith" that nothing can separate us from God's love.  The Holy Spirit fills us with courage, love, and boldness to make Christ known and loved.  We don't need to fear our opponents because Christ's love, stronger than fear and death, conquers all, even our fear in the face of opposition.  Lord, fill me with the power and grace of the Spirit....
      • Universalis:  John the Baptist and Joseph are the only saints with two feasts:  June's celebrates John's birth; today's, his death.  John was a prophet from the womb, leaping inside Elizabeth to announce Jesus' coming.  He courageously announced he was least in the kingdom.  When the great or talented come across someone greater, they'll feel like we do.  Pray they, like John, may pass that test.

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