Dear Friends in Christ
We come this weekend to the end of the holiday season, as many of us prepare to return to school and work after the Summer vacation. In the Gospel of this Sunday Jesus tells us to enter by the narrow door…This reminds us that the road to Heaven is not a broad and easy one but rather a path which will involve sacrifice and effort. Both during the last week and in the coming week, we celebrate a variety of Saints who show us how to live discipleship of Christ by radical love. One of these is St John the Baptist, whose beheading we celebrate on Thursday. St John was the first of the New Testament Saints, and was a cousin of our Lord. St John is the only Saint in the calendar who is honoured by both his birth and death; because as Jesus says of him: Of those born of women there is none greater than John the Baptist. Since the time of St John countless souls have given their lives in faithfulness to Christ. Most likely God will not ask for our martyrdom by blood as a witness to the Faith. Our normal duty, however, when done with deep love, can be a constant sacrifice. This form of ‘martyrdom’ requires no less sacrifice than the giving of our life-blood. St John completely surrendered his life for Christ, as one of his first disciples. As St Bede comments: There is no doubt
St John suffered prison and chains as a forerunner of our Redeemer. Though Herod did not demand that he deny Christ he did try to oblige the Baptist to remain silent about the truth. We can therefore affirm the precursor did suffer martyrdom. Since death was ever near at hand through the inescapable necessities of nature, the Martyr considered it a blessing to embrace it for acknowledging Christ’s name in return for the reward of eternal life.
I wish you all a good holiday weekend!
Msgr Kevin Hale