ODAY’S liturgical feast, in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, is the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. This is one of the more intriguing feasts for people who are just becoming familiar with the liturgical year and celebration of the saints. Even for those who are very familiar with the Church’s liturgy, today’s feast prompts a timely question: why was the Baptist killed?
It began with Herod, who decided to take his brother’s wife as his own. John the Baptist rightfully didn’t approve of that, and he said to Herod: “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Needless to say, that opposition did not put John in Herod’s good graces. So John the Baptist was killed for his defense of marriage.
It’s so very much like the story of Sir Thomas More. Thomas was asked by Henry VIII to give approval to the king’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon. As a matter of conscience, Thomas More refused to give his approval. And so he, too, suffered death for his defense of marriage.
In our own day, marriage is under siege in numerous ways. Society asks us to accept that marriage means whatever we want it to mean. Society asks us to view marriage as a mere business arrangement—as simply a legal construct. But that is not what marriage is.
Marriage is a Sacrament, instituted by Christ, for the fostering of family life. We need the moral courage—the fortitude—to call evil evil and good good. We may never be put to death for raising opposition to modern trends. But, then again, maybe we will.
We need the intercession of Saints John the Baptist and Thomas More to strengthen us in this fight. Let’s ask for their heartfelt prayers so that the world might rediscover the authentic meaning of Holy Matrimony.