The Passion of John the Baptist

Homily for the Memorial of the Passion of John the Baptist | Please click here for the readings.

The Feast of Herod and the Beheading of the Baptist. Giovanni Baronzio

God often chooses the people we least expect to bring about change, to bring about transformation, to bring us to a moment of conversion. For instance, look at the list of Popes. Many times the men who were elected by the Cardinals to lead the Church were those that no one expected. No one expected Karol Woltyla or Jorge Bergoglio or Albino Luciani or Angelo Roncalli. Yet these were men who, in their own way, the Father used to change the Church for the better.

But this is nothing new. The Lord has been using individuals, men and women, throughout the history of salvation, who were seen by society as insignificant to bring others to moments of conversion. Countless saints of the Church, the prophets of old, the parents of Jesus, and, yes, even St. John the Baptist.

John the Baptist was seen as somewhat of an outcast. Here is this man who lives in the desert, feasts on locusts, never changes his clothing, probably doesn’t bathe all that much, and screams as the top of his lungs: “REPENT! The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” People thought he was crazy! Can you imagine what looks we would give John today? People wouldn’t take him seriously at all in today’s world. The rich and the powerful of his day certainly didn’t take him seriously. In fact, they were so challenged by John that it resulted in him being beheaded. Yet, despite people thinking John was crazy and insignificant, God still chose him to announce the coming of the Messiah.

Who are the people in our lives that we view as insignificant, people who God might be using to announce some kind of revelation? It may not have to be an extraordinary revelation necessarily. But who are those people? Who are those that different groups in society have written off that God may be using to challenge our way of thinking?

  • The unborn baby in the womb.
  • The young teen struggling to find his or her place in the world.
  • The individual with Down Syndrome.
  • The homeless Veteran begging for money on the street.
  • The immigrant looking for a better life for his family.
  • The elderly parent neglected in a nursing home.
  • The young black man who got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • The police officer who wants to make the world a better place.

Who are those people that we view as insignificant that God could be using to call us to a moment of conversion? Are we listening to their prophetic voices or are we responding like Herod and putting them to death in our hearts?

Published by Fr. Tom Pringle

Priest of the Diocese of Orlando. Parochial Vicar at Holy Family Catholic Church, Orlando.

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