Memorial of the Passion of St. John the Baptist
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Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. …Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him…She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet… Herodias’ own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod…The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish…” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
This was today’s Gospel passage for our 1st K-5th grade Mass at All Saints. I couldn’t believe it! I felt horrible for the kids. What would they think? What could I say? How could make this true story relevant for our kids? Well, here is my homily from today’s elementary school Mass. I share it with you because many parents (adults) came up to me after Mass and told me how much they needed to hear this.
John’s Head. St. John the Baptist was beheaded by some very mean people. Are you a mean person?
I think the best definition of a mean person is someone who only thinks of themselves or who will do whatever it takes to get what they want. Are you mean to others? Do you think only of yourself? Will you do whatever it takes to get what you want? I hope not. But I am worried because all of you have had an entire summer to perfect your fake cries and temper tantrums. So, the question is: Have you become a mean person to the people who love you the most?
Herodias was a very mean person, and she didn’t care a nickel about it. Why would she? After all, she had lots of power, lots of “friends” and lots of money. No one, no one in their right mind would even dare to get in her way…except for one brave person: John the Baptist. You see, to make a difference in the world, all it takes is for one good person to stand up to tyranny. And although St. John lost his head. He never lost his heart. And his heart inspired countless men and women to rise up and follow Jesus Christ.
Mean people think they can get away with just about anything, including murder! But they can’t, for they too will be judged by God and by their neighbor.
Are you a mean person? I hope not.
How do you know someone loves you? One child responded by saying, “If they hug you,” while another said, “If they put you to sleep at night.” Although I thought these answers were absolutely adorable and true, I continued to play the devil’s advocate and told them, “Well, sometimes mean people give you hugs and kisses when they want something from you. Also, sometimes our parents put us to sleep just to get rid of us (or because they want some peace and quiet). [Lots of laughter!] So…I’m not yet convinced.”
Finally, a teacher gave the answer I was looking for: “By the way they sacrifice for you.” BINGO! We know someone loves us by the way they sacrifice for us. Our parents, even our grandparents, would die for us. I hope you all know this! And this is what John the Baptist did, and what so many have done after him. He was willing to lay down his life for his friends and the Lord.
So, how do you know someone loves you? By the way they sacrifice for you.
There’s a lot of love in our homes, in our school and in our society. There are a lot of people here who love you. Now it’s your turn to share your love with others. So make a sacrifice and live your life like Jesus Christ, who showed us just how much he loved us when he laid down his life for us.
This is why you go to All Saints: to learn how to love and be loved. (0)