In many ways John the Baptist could be seen as a moral activist. He knows how powerful Herod is and yet he dares to tell him that his marriage to his brother’s ex-wife is immoral. The weird thing about this is that Herod does not seem to be too worried about what John has to say. It is his wife that has a problem with John and it is she who conspires with her daughter to have john killed at the first available opportunity. Unwittingly, it is Herod in his fear of what the people might think of him if he fails to live up to his promise, who provides that opportunity.

 

Herod actually likes to listen to the preaching of John – perhaps he was even in some sort of conversion process – because it gives him something to think about and probably challenges him to be a better person. John would have been quite an interesting person to meet in that he had spent many years in the desert as somewhat of an eremetic recluse. When he eventually reappeared he preached a message of repentance and baptism. What can we learn from John the Baptist today?

 

John was a man who had a fearless love of the truth and he was not afraid to speak it even to the most powerful of people. This disregard for his own reputation in the eyes of others is exactly the opposite of Herod’s fear of the people. Perhaps this is what really attracted Herod to John? Whatever the case may be for Herod, it should also attract us to John in that he is an inspiring figure for those who will allow his story time to resonate in their lives. John is a figure who stands before us to dare us to speak the truth in love no matter what the consequences may be for us. Are we ready to hear that challenge or will we shrink from our responsibility to the Gospel.

 

Holy Spirit, take away any fear I may have of losing face in the minds of others. Let me firmly believe that what matters is that I can stand before God with a clear conscience and affirm I have done all that he asked me to do.