Beheading of St. John: In Defense of Marriage
This month we celebrate the beheading of St. John the Baptist. It’s a strange sounding feast day to be sure, but it is the memorial of the passion of St. John, who is our diocesan patron. In June, we celebrated his nativity also, in a way only Jesus and the Blessed Mother are honored, and his beheading is one of the oldest feasts on the Church’s liturgical calendar.
St. John did not die a martyr — he was never asked to renounce his faith — but he did die for the truth. Herod Antipas married Herodias, the ambitious wife of his brother Philip. She divorced Philip and Herod divorced his wife Phasaelis. St. John publicly condemned Herod and Herodius because marrying a living brother’s wife was specifically condemned in the law (Lv 20:21).
St. John defended marriage and spoke eloquently of repenting and returning to the Father. In the same way he was willing to call people to holiness in truth, we must, with love, do the same.
"But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.’ ... and he had John beheaded in the prison (Mt 14:6-10).”