4th Week of Ordinary Time (8th February, 2019)
First Reading: Heb 13:1-8
Gospel: Mk 6:14-29
Today’s gospel speaks of beheading of John the Baptist. He is actually not only a precursor to Jesus but also, he is a good example for all missionaries on how a missionary life should be lived. John the Baptist was a person who had complete devotion and surrendered to Jesus Christ. He spent his entire life to preaching the kingdom of heaven by his how life and preaching he had unshakable faith in God without in any way compromising with rulers when it came to proclaim justice, love and peace. The result of his bold and upright preaching and living led his to gallows at the hand of King Herod. His birth itself was announced before seven hundred years by the Prophet Isaiah where it is said, “A voice of the one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill make low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together” (Is 40:3-5).
What we learn from John the Baptist is his singular attention to the glory of God through his ministry. There was a great popularity around him and great crowed followed him seeking to be baptized by him and asking him the way to enter the Kingdome of Heaven. No popularity could ever deviate him from his ministry and purpose of his birth as St Mathew would say, “They went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan confessing their sins” (Mt 3:5-6). Yet he remained unfazed by a large crowed which followed him. He went on preaching despite any hindrance from the crowed that went on surrounding him. He was very clear about his mission and nothing or nobody could change his mind. He did fulfill his ministry with complete devotion and surrender to Jesus in utter humility. His call to sinners for repentance was never in a compromising term. He was never afraid even to the extent of calling those who considered themselves as righteous, ‘brood of vipers’ and warned d wherever and whoever sinned without any regard of their social or financial status. His faith was only in the Lord and thus without any fear of being punished, he could ever question the immoral way of life of even the King Herod for keeping his former wife of his brother Philip.
We also see in him a great example of humility. This appears very strong in the episode of Jesus’ approaching to be baptized. John the Baptist forbids Him initially to be baptized by him as He was the Son of God and that he himself needs to be baptized by Him. And thus, we see that with utter humility he also adds saying, “I am not worthy to untie even the straps of His sandals”. He is indeed an example for us for the unshakeable faith in the Lord and the way he conducted his life for the glory of the Lord. Amen.