August 29, 2017

John the Baptist's Passion

August 29, 2017:  Passion of John the Baptist

  • 'Heart' pin:  We speak to please God who judges our hearts (1st reading)
  • 'Magnifying glass' (inside key) pin:  "You have searched me, Lord" (psalm)
  • 'Hand' tie pin:  You rest your hand upon me (psalm)
  • '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

  • Dance of the Seven Veils, from Salome/ Strauss fits the gospel; find one yourself if you can tolerate possible adult content.
  • 1 Thes 2:1-8  God gave us courage to speak God's Gospel to you; we speak to please God, not people.  We weren't flattering or greedy but gentle, as a nursing mother cares for her children.  We shared not only the Gospel but our very selves, so beloved had you become.
  • Ps 139:1-3, 4-6  "You have searched me and you know me, Lord."  You know when I sit and stand, what I think, where I go, what I do, what I say; you rest your hand on me....
  • Jer 1:17-19  Tell them all I command you; don't let them terrify you.  make you a fortified city against Judah’s kings, princes, priests, and people.   They'll fight you but not prevail, for I am with you.
  • Ps 71:1-4a, 5-6b, 15ab, 17  "I will sing of your salvation."  Hear, rescue, deliver, and save me; you're my rock, hope, trust, and strength.  I'll proclaim your justice and deliverance.
  • 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:  The 1st reading ends, “We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children. With such affection, we shared with you the Gospel of God and our very selves, so dearly beloved had you become to us.”  The bond between mother and nursing infant is gentle, quiet, sweet, relational, unitive, self-fulfilling and other-fulfilling. The child and mother know each other in a uniquely intimate way.  Paul's evoking this image says much about the roots of our faith.
The Psalmist also speaks of the gentleness of a God who intimately knows his people, who “rests his hand on us.”  The gospel, in contrast, displays violence and cruelty toward John; the callousness demonstrates what lack of gentleness can lead to.  In these violent times, may we listen for God's small voice, bask in and learn from its gentleness, and allow it to rule our hearts, minds, and bodies.
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Grown-ups":  We need people like John, courageous people who speak truth in love, mature Christians, not "infants" "carried about by every wind of doctrine that originates in trickery and proposes error."  Signs of Christian maturity:  awareness of God's call, desire for holiness, gratitude, and hope for the day of the Lord.  Holy Spirit, make us holy, "mature, lacking in nothing."  The Lord has an astounding plan for your life, but challenges are ahead; you'll need that maturity....
    Salome with the Head of John the Baptist
  • Passionist:  John the Baptist knew his charism was to preach and proclaim the Messiah's coming. He held fast to his gift and put his life on the line to speak the truth to King Herod Antipas.  Powerful Herod didn't humble himself and say no to the request for John's head.  When given power, we need to know what to do with it:  use it for good despite the cost, or use it to make us “king of the hill,” walking over others and ignoring the truth along the way.  How am I using my gifts and talents to build up the Body of Christ?
  •  "Herod feared John...":   John the Baptist bridged the Old and New Testaments, pointing the way to the Messiah; he suffered violence for announcing God's kingdom.  Herod had all he wanted except a clear conscience.  He respected John as prophet and servant of God, but John rebuked him for his adulterous relationship.  To please family and friends, Herod had him imprisoned, then beheaded; he was bent on that vs. doing right.  His strong stand on the wrong things was a sign of weakness.  The Lord gives strength and courage to do right to those who depend 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 nothing can separate us from God's love.  The 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 fear.  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.
Pope Francis Amoris Lætitia capsule:  The elderly

The elderly fear being forgotten and rejected.  Just as God asks us to hear the poor, so he wants us to hear the elderly.  The Church can't be impatient, indifferent, or contemptuous towards them; we must reawaken our gratitude, appreciation, and hospitality and make them feel part of the community.  Our elderly came before us on our road, in our house, in our battle for a worthy life.  Let's challenge today's throwaway culture with the joy of a new embrace between young and old.

Some cultures set the elderly aside, but those who break ties with the past find it difficult to build stable relationships and realize reality is bigger than they are.  The elderly "bridge the gap," help us appreciate the continuity of the generations, and pass down important values; their words, affection, and mere presence help us realize we're pilgrims and need to respect what came before.  A society attentive to the elderly, making room for them and respecting their wisdom, will move forward.
Lack of memory is a serious shortcoming today.  Memory is necessary to build a meaningful future.  Listening to the elderly makes young people feel connected to their families' history.  A society that discards the elderly is torn from its roots; it has a deadly virus.  Make your family a place where children can sink roots into history; spare them the cultural discontinuity we experience.  (V:191-93)

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