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Today's Gospel + short theological explanation

August 29th: Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist

Gospel text (Mk 6,17-29): Herod had sent to have John arrested, and had him chained up in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife whom he had married. For John had told him, «It is not right for you to live with your brother's wife». So Herodias held a grudge against John and wanted to kill him (…). Herodias had her chance on Herod's birthday, when (…) he sent one of the bodyguards with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded John in prison (…).

The martyrdom of St. John the Baptist (¿what is a martyr?)

EDITORIAL TEAM evangeli.net (based on texts by Benedict XVI) (Città del Vaticano, Vatican)

Today, in the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist we focus on Jesus Christ as a model of "martyr". The Baptist gave his life for unswervingly defending the truth about marriage. This is precisely what "martyrdom" is about: to obey the "Lord of Lords", with all its consequences, without yielding to subterfuge.

Since its inception Christianity identified martyrdom with "liturgy" ("recognizing oneself with Christ…") and as a "sacrificial event" ("…with a suffering Christ with love"). Christians in martyrdom are entirely carried into the obedience to Christ, inside the liturgy of the Cross, and so, within the true worship (totally yielding their hearts to the Father). St. Ignatius of Antioch, for example, claimed “I am Christ’s wheat that I may be ground up in such manner as to become good bread unto Christ”.

—O Jesus, grant me the gift of availability to suffer with you. Because "Christian" and "martyr" are equivalent: in the plight of ordinary life I can become the "bread" that communicates the mystery of Christ, being an "offering" for God and for men.