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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

St. John the Baptist and the Fortnight for Freedom

It's interesting that St. John the Baptist's feast today falls within the U.S. bishops' Fortnight for Freedom project. Perhaps that was deliberate although I think the event is more linked to the 4th of July. His is one of the few birthdays celebrated by the Church and one of the few saints with multiple feast days.(His beheading is commemorated on August 29 and his baptizing the Lord on January 13.)

St. John is certainly an appropriate saint for the Fortnight for Freedom. King Herod had him killed because he dared to speak out about the man's corruption. (No religious freedom rights for loudmouthed saints!) His preaching earned him the diabolical hatred of Herod's wife, Herodias. She bided her time until she could bring about John's murder with the aid of her seductive daughter and Herod's lust.

How many of us dare to speak truth to power, even to the emotional power of our children, relatives, and friends? We shrink from anything that makes us "uncomfortable." Somebody might think we are "judgmental." Not that we need to imitate the fire and brimstone style of a Savonarola calling for the Church to rule the state, but we are called to witness, going out "to the whole world." We would do well to reach at least the first circle of the world by speaking the truth to family and friends.

But it's not easy to do, God knows. What a blessing that we have in John the Baptist the perfect saint to intercede for us as we evangelize, one who prepared the way of the Lord by his preaching and the witness of his life. He can help prepare us as well.

St. John the Baptist, pray for us!