One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

August 29, 2006

For the Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist, August 29

[The official Latin originals of the current liturgical books of the Church still call this the memorial of the saint’s passio, his “suffering”.]

Mark 6:17-29

It would appear that John’s mission ended in gruesome failure.
On the contrary, our faith and tradition regard the Baptist’s death as his supreme act of testimony to the truth and as his supreme act of discipleship as the prophet who announced the presence of the Lord.
In his own day, John’s own prophetic holiness was considered so great that when the reputation of Jesus as a prophet and miracle-worker began to spread, people thought John must have risen from the dead.
John preached repentance.
So now do Jesus and the disciples of Jesus.
John’s voice opened the ears and hearts of the people through contrition, and so now they are hungry to hear the voice of the Lamb of God.
The Gospel itself tells us that great numbers of people flocked to Jesus like sheep to their shepherd.
John prepared the way for the Lord.
He did this above all by preaching repentance and testifying on behalf of the truth.
The contemporaries of John recognized in his preaching the promotion and defense of fidelity to God and his laws.
Our faith recognizes something deeper: Jesus was and is the living and incarnate truth in person— the very Truth itself that John’s preaching proclaimed.
John’s death for preaching the truth about God and about sin was essentially death for the sake of Christ, the Way, the Life and the Truth in Person, True God and Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
John’s death for the sake of truth was therefore also a privileged foreshadowing of the death of Christ the Lord, the Living Truth.
We may ask, “About WHAT is Christ the truth?”
We already have the answer to this question; but it is an answer whose meaning we can never exhaust.
Christ’s words and deeds, his teaching and way of living all tell us the truth about GOD and the truth about HUMANITY.
Both the true nature of God and the true nature of humanity are revealed, reconciled and united in the one person of Christ.
To look upon Christ is the essential vocation that every human person receives when he is called into being.
You have heard it before: to exist AT ALL is already to have heard and obeyed the voice of the Creator who has commanded us into being.
Christ, the WORD of God, IS that voice of the Creator.
To look upon the face of Christ and to listen to his voice is the vocation of EVERY human being.
John the Baptist exhorted his hearers to look upon Jesus.
John’s voice still echoes the same exhortation to us in every offering of the Eucharist:
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world

That God Be Glorified in All


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