Mk 6:14-29 Behind the Scenes
“The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Heb 13:7)
In today’s reading we take leave of John the Baptist and go behind the scenes to witness the circumstances that led to his murder. Here is a man who grew strong and courageous. He preached repentance and baptism - renewal. He lived between this world and the other. He was the herald who announced the coming of the Lord. He worked among his people and suffered as they did. He sacrificed for them in spirit and in flesh. He lived a life of poverty, chastity and obedience. He was executed by those who lived a life of pride, vanity and sensuality that translated into filth, perversion, gluttony, immaturity, immorality, possessiveness, obsessive-ness, weakness, cowardice and disorder. Such men rule(d) the world! How they achieved power and position only gives credibility to the “Ruiner of the World.”
This is the time, place and life of the Baptist. He is remembered while all others are forgotten. He is in Heaven; all others are orphans. God loves a humble heart. God will love us if the Baptist and his ways would be preached and lived by us today. How the world needs men and women of his holiness!
If you think about it, the Law of Marriage is what did him in. The defense of this holy bond is what does us in today. The Love of God demands justice to his creation, his laws, and his people. Many still lose their heads in defending the same institution as John did. But as the psalmist puts it so brilliantly, “God’s way is unerring, the promise of the Lord is tried and true; he is a shield to all…The Lord lives! And blessed be my Rock!” (Ps 18) There is no greater guarantee of life everlasting!
Although the circumstances of the death of John are well known, we must never forget who is truly behind the scenes. The devil wishes for us to stumble and fall. He knows that his greatest threat to creating havoc is holiness – personal holiness. John is not great because he stood up for what was right, good and holy. John is great because he was a holy man and that is why he stood so tall.
This morning I did some house cleaning. In Dallas we are ill-equipped for snow and ice. All my appointments have been cancelled and that is one of the reasons why I have been able to get my meditations out so quickly! While I was cleaning the rectory, I stumbled upon a small gift box given to me for Christmas. I had already removed the pen from inside but I wanted to open the box up again. Why? I have no idea. When I did, I noticed that I had not removed a “gold” book mark that was inside. What was written on it struck me, “You serve the Lord our God so faithfully” (Dt 15:10). The experts say that first reactions are usually the correct ones. Well, I immediately thought to myself, “If they only knew.”
I wish I could say that I serve the Lord faithfully. But I prefer to say that I need your prayers! We all need each other’s prayers. What got John the Baptist through the dark nights in the cold, damp, filthy and lonely cell that became his daily scenery were the events that were going on behind the scenes: the prayers of many faithful men and women who carried him through another day and into eternal life.