Martyr for Marriage
Well. It’s been awhile. I have discovered that, while blogging itself is not difficult, maintaining a blog consistently is a considerable effort if you are not a professional blogger or journalist. A particular challenge I’ve found (and this is totally my problem to fix) is that when something happens in the world or the Church that is especially blog-worthy, the major Catholic blogs have already addressed the issue so thoroughly so quickly that I feel like there’s little left to say by the time I can get around to writing. I’ll have to work on that.
Today, I thought I’d offer a very brief observation for reflection, and I have to be honest and admit that it isn’t even my own: an elderly priest mentioned this in passing in his homily this morning, and I was so struck by it that I thought I’d share it here so others may profit as I did.
Today is the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist. Obviously, there is plenty to say about John, but there was an element of his death – his martyrdom – that I had not thought about before that seems especially germane to the situation in our world today.
According to the Gospels, John’s imprisonment and subsequent beheading were directly a result of his public critique of one particular event: Herod’s marriage to his brother’s ex-wife Herodias. She was evidently especially incensed by this, as the texts say that Herod liked to listen to John and at least Mark suggests that Herod was reluctant to kill John at Salome’s request. But he did anyway, probably because he was drunk and in front of all his important friends.
The specific issue of marriage to a former in-law is not entirely relevant to our present situation, but more simply, John the Baptist was martyred because he spoke out for the truth about the meaning of marriage. He was, quite simply, a martyr for marriage.
This observation immediately increased my devotion to St. John the Baptist.
To add to this, we also celebrated the feasts of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher this week. They too were martyred because they refused to sign the oath of supremacy demanded by King Henry VIII over his leadership of the Church in England, a situation brought about because of Henry’s desire to control the meaning of marriage.
This week offers us feasts of multiple saints who died in defense of the meaning of marriage. This occurs in the midst of the USCCB’s 2016 Fortnight for Freedom (a now annual event that I dearly wish was unnecessary), in which we are emboldened to stand up for religious freedom, these days so caught up with the meaning of marriage and the meaning of manhood and womanhood.
We have powerful intercessors gracefully aligned together at this important time! St. John the Baptist, St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher, pray for us!
I guess this means that we should not be surprised that many will be martyred still for that same defense. Strange how the Life, Marriage, and Family issues, more than any others, are the ones for which we are most likely to be martyred.