Readings: Thursday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time | USCCB
In our Gospel today we hear that Herod is amazed at the notion that John has been raised - even though it is Christ who is being heralded. In the very act of St. John the Baptist being conflated with Christ we see that God’s message is continuous, and death cannot interrupt it. In fact, building off of the fact that St. John was killed, we find that Herod Himself is interested in the very source of wisdom which was sought to be extinguished in the Baptist’s beheading. Interesting - St. John’s death ends up leading others to Christ!
As the Church Fathers emphasize, the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians. Persecution, death, destruction in the Church has all been touched by grace and become fertile ground for growth. It reminds the Church that we who compromise in order to make peace with the world are actually working against our own success and growth. If our salvation was borne through the shedding of blood of the King of Martyrs, it certainly won’t be continued fruitfully by an evasion of our own crosses.
If our heart is truly dedicated to evangelization, we will look to righteous-persecution (as opposed to a self-oriented victim culture) as the highway to enabling God’s mission to become fulfilled. We must remember the key here is that we are persecuted for the sake of righteousness. That is an act of laying down our life for our Friend, King, and Savior: Jesus. Do we stand up for him in our day, to our culture?
We fall into the trap from time to time of using worldly strategies to build up the Church. The world eats strategies, like they are snacks, and then moves on. Trendy music, entertaining or ‘fluffy” homilies, niceties, catchy programs, marketing techniques, and commercialism in general are all externals ordered toward engagement. They are capitalist endeavors that seek to sell membership, but not orient one to a relationship with God and the community. We treat, as some say, the liturgy as an attempt to “sell a car.” We aren’t marketing a product, its a relationship that’s worth dying for. And dying for that relationship with God demonstrates the authenticity of our followers. In what way is the Church in a secular culture willing to embrace this? What are you doing?
Very timely message for today’s culture. Thank you 🙏
Excellent and helpful🕊🙏