Blessed Catholic Saints and Angels

~~Witnesses of Faith pray for us ! ~~

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist ( August 29 )

God our Father, You called John the Baptist to be the herald of Your Son's birth and death. As he gave his life in witness to truth and justice, so may we strive to profess our faith in Your Gospel. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The whole life of St. John the Forerunner, from its first days, was entirely dedicated to the One Who came after him.
As Saint John the Baptist was forerunner of Christ to the living, making straight the way of the Lord, so he was forerunner of Christ even to the dead, getting them ready for his coming on Holy Saturday. The mind and tongue of this great Saint and Martyr would not be stopped, even by death!
The Feast of the Beheading of the Baptist was one of earliest annual liturgical celebrations throughout the Christian world. According to ancient tradition John's body was buried at Sebaste, but Herodius had the head buried in a dung heap. Once again the seat of his learning and teaching was to be humiliated; once again, we are reminded just how precious, how powerful, how threatening can be the life of the mind and the tongue. John's head was, however, secretly recovered by his followers and hidden away, only to be rediscovered several times over the centuries, giving rise to various claims and counter-claims as to who held the principal relic. Rather troublingly for those who like these things neat and tidy, there are several heads of John the Baptist available for veneration, in churches in Rome, Amiens and Antioch, in a museum in Munich and a mosque in Damascus...
It is easy to think that the age of the martyrs is over, but maybe it has just began. In ten thousand years from now, people may look back to the early church, with its early doctors such as Augustine, Basil the Great, John Paul the Great and Benedict XVI, and its early martyrs such as John the Baptist, Thomas More, Maximilian Kolbe and the many martyrs of South East Asia. In his apostolic letter at the beginning of the new millennium (Novo Millennio Inuente), John Paul wrote that people who are willing to die for the truth become like Christ himself and have throughout history helped the Church to survive and grow. The Church in our day, he said, has once again become a church of martyrs and their witness must not be forgotten.
Saint Bede said that Saint John the Baptist died for Christ since he was killed for speaking the truth and Christ is the Truth. He who baptized Christ is baptized in his own blood, thus bearing witness to the Shepherd who would later lay down his life for his sheep.

Let us faithfully pray :
O God, Thou raised up St. John the Baptist to prepare a perfect people for Christ.
Fill Thy people with the joy of possessing His Grace, and direct the minds of all the faithful in the way of Peace and Salvation.
Grant that as St. John was martyred for Truth and Justice, so we may energetically profess our Faith in Thee, and lead others to the Way, the Truth, and Eternal Life. Amen.

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