Memory of the Church

Share On

Memory of the martyrdom of John the Baptist, precursor of the Lord.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 6, 17-29

Now it was this same Herod who had sent to have John arrested, and had had him chained up in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife whom he had married.

For John had told Herod, 'It is against the law for you to have your brother's wife.'

As for Herodias, she was furious with him and wanted to kill him, but she was not able to do so,

because Herod was in awe of John, knowing him to be a good and upright man, and gave him his protection. When he had heard him speak he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him.

An opportunity came on Herod's birthday when he gave a banquet for the nobles of his court, for his army officers and for the leading figures in Galilee.

When the daughter of this same Herodias came in and danced, she delighted Herod and his guests; so the king said to the girl, 'Ask me anything you like and I will give it you.'

And he swore her an oath, 'I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.'

She went out and said to her mother, 'What shall I ask for?' She replied, 'The head of John the Baptist.'

The girl at once rushed back to the king and made her request, 'I want you to give me John the Baptist's head, immediately, on a dish.'

The king was deeply distressed but, thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, he was reluctant to break his word to her.

At once the king sent one of the bodyguard with orders to bring John's head.

The man went off and beheaded him in the prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother.

When John's disciples heard about this, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

From antiquity, the Church has not only remembered the birth of the Baptist, but also the day of his death at the hand of Herod, who preferred to listen to the whims of an evil-hearted woman to the difficult but true words of the prophet. The Baptist had preached justice and the conversion of the heart. And he had gotten into the king’s heart. Herodias, on the contrary, was becoming more and more annoyed by the prophet’s preaching and detested him. Unfortunately, Herod did not keep listening to the prophet’s words and the fear he felt at being rebuked for what he had done did not keep him listening long enough to convert. The bitter experience of refusing to listen to preaching inevitably hardens the heart until it becomes evil. Although only half-heartedly, Herod lets himself be carried away by events, even if merely capricious, and becomes a murderer. All priorities are overturned. His promise was more important than the prophet’s life. And Herod decided to have the Baptist decapitated. From Herod’s perverse heart rose a homicide and the attempt to make evil triumph over good. Those who flocked to the Jordan to listen to the Baptist behaved differently: they came knowing that they were sinner and needed to be forgiven, changed, and salved. John’s witness – the same thing happens every time the Gospel is preached – prepares the heart to welcome the Lord. This is what happened to some of his disciples, who, after hearing about Jesus, begun to follow him. Not listening to the voice of the prophet, not taking into consideration his words that exhort and correct, means decapitating that Word and rendering ineffective its pressing invitation to welcome the Lord.