The Passion of Saint John the Baptist
Malvern Minute


The Passion of Saint John the Baptist

August 29, 2020

Deacon Anthony J. Cincotta

Assistant Director for Retreat Ministry


First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 1:26-31

Psalm 33

Mark 6:17-29


I once read that back in the Middle Ages (5th to 15th centuries) there was a popular devotional item that Catholic families had and one that I have never seen.  It was a carved head of John the Baptist on a platter.  That devotion of course came from our narrative in today’s Gospel.  I’m not certain if I would like to have that carving in my home or even displayed in my parish.  However, after giving it much thought, I concluded that by looking upon the carved head of Saint John the Baptist it would be a very powerful reminder of two things; how dangerous speaking the truth can sometimes be and how glorious speaking the truth can be!

Calling kings and rulers to repent their sins can be a risky business.  Instead of bringing about conversion and baptism it could very quickly bring about imprisonment, torture and death.  However, John challenged as he taught.  King Herod was perplexed, “yet liked to listen to him.”  Herodias was furious, as much about the influence John had over her husband as about his message.   His message was, of course, the Judeo-Christian teaching about the sanctity of marriage.  If Christian teaching about God does not get you martyred, its counter-cultural moral teaching sometimes will.   Within our culture the temptation is to challenge the truth by having a “you do what you want, and I’ll do what I want” attitude.  But our good Saint John would not be silenced, as long as he kept his head…and neither should we.   

Friends it is easy for us to think that the age of the martyr is over, but just maybe it has just begun.  Here is something to keep in mind, and that is the main point of today’s feast day; it is that there are many ways to kill someone.  To behead someone is to kill in a way that removes the persons mind, tongue, eyes, ears, thoughts and teaching.  In other words, beheading is to bring someone to complete and utter silence – unless of course, you are speaking about Christ and His Church.  Even in death, one still speaks.

Each of us has a calling that we must heed.  No one will ever repeat the mission of John the Baptist, and yet all of us are called to that very mission.  It is the role of every Christian to witness Jesus.  Whatever our position in this world, we are called to be disciples of Christ.  By our words and deeds, others should realize that we live in the joy of knowing that Jesus is Lord.  We do not have to depend upon our own limited resources, but can draw strength from the vastness of Christ’s saving grace.

Question of the Day:  How will you be a witness to Christ in the world?

Prayer:  God, You chose Saint John the Baptist to be the forerunner of Your Son Who was born and died for us.  Grant that, as Saint John was martyred for truth and justice, so we may energetically profess our Faith in You.  Amen.  (From “the Lives of the Saints – Illustrated.)

Please continue to pray for the victims of the Coronavirus and for all who are affected by this unprecedented pandemic as well as for peace in our country and in our world.




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