One Minute Reflection – 29 August – The Memorial of the Beheading of St John the Baptist, Readings: 1 Corinthians 1: 26-31, Psalms 33: 12-13, 18-19, 20-21, Mark 6: 17-29
She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”… Mark 6:24
“The great forerunner of grace and messenger of truth,
John the Baptist, Christ’s shining torch,
Now becomes the preacher of eternal Light.
The prophetic witness that he never ceased to show
In his message, life and all his mighty works,
Is signed today by the blood of his martyrdom.
He always went before his Lord:
In birth declared his coming to the world.
By his baptism of sinners in the Jordan
He foretold the one by whom baptism would be instituted
And, by shedding his blood for Him with love,
John the Baptist also experienced beforehand
The death of Christ our Saviour, who gave life to the world.
A cruel tyrant may well conceal him in a prison, bound with irons,
Yet in Christ such chains could never bind a man,
Whose heart in freedom opens to the Kingdom.
How could the darkness and torments of a dungeon dim
Gain mastery over one who sees Christ’s glory
And receives from Him the Holy Spirit’s gifts?
Willingly he gives his head to the executioner’s sword;
How could he lose his head
Whose Head is Christ?
Happy is he who wins today his forerunner’s title
By his departure from this world of ours.
Today his death proclaims his testimony while living:
Christ who comes and who now is here.
Could hell hold fast the messenger who escapes it?
The just, the prophets and the martyrs are full of joy
As they go with him to meet the Saviour.
All surround John with their praises and their love
And, with him, beg Christ to come at last to those who are His own.
O great forerunner of the Redeemer, he delays no longer
Who sets you free from death for evermore.
Led by your Lord,
Enter into glory with the saints!” … St Bede the Venerable (673-735) Father & Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – God our Father, You appointed St John the Baptist to be the herald of the birth and death of Christ Your Son. Grant that as he died a martyr for justice and truth, so we may also courageously bear witness to Your Word. We make our prayer, through Jesus Christ our Lord with the Holy Spirit, one God forever. St John the Baptist, pray for us, amen.