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Shortly after he had baptized Jesus on the banks of the Jordan, John the Baptist had denounced Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee, to his face.

For thirty years the dissolute ruler had indulged himself and his every whim, while holding court in his palace overlooking the Dead Sea. His latest crime: Herod had divorced his own wife and married Herodias, the wife of his elder brother Philip.

Tolerated by his Roman overlords and useful to them for their own purposes, the licentiousness and excess of the revelries he held were notorious and scandalous, and yet none dared to confront him for fear of the cruelty that lurked just below the surface of his unpredictable character. None dared to speak out. None, that is, until this John, known as the Baptist, and believed by many to be a prophet – if not indeed the Messiah.

In the same direct and fearless manner in which he censured the Jewish nation for the moral decadence into which it had fallen, and called sinners to repentance, John the Baptist spelled out clearly to Herod the evil he had done: “It is not lawful for you to have her.”

For proclaiming the truth, John was imprisoned. And yet Herod dared not take any further action against him. As is common with his kind, he was superstitious, and he knew him to be a “righteous man.” Moreover, John had for him an irresistible fascination. Who was this man? Herod’s anger gave way to curiosity. During the next four months, Herod’s visits to his prisoner began to have a strange affect on this master of revels. An irresistible awe gradually took possession of him, to be replaced by fear, which in turn gave place to respect. This did not go unnoticed by his courtiers, foremost among them, Herodias, and she bided her time, watchful for any opportunity that might be used, but impatient for John’s destruction.

A favorable occasion soon presented itself in the form of Herod’s birthday for which an elaborate banquet and lavish entertainment was to be laid on. His marriage to his brother’s wife and his arrest of John the Baptist had not been well received, though none but John dared to voice any open criticism. Thus, both Herod and Herodias took care that the celebrating and feasting should be more brilliant than usual, a luxurious affair that would purchase him the favor of his flatterers once again.

Influential and powerful officials, chiefs and magnates, from near and far, gathered at the palace – their differences dissolved round Herod’s loaded table. At a certain moment, well calculated for its affect, the succession of entertainers is replaced by a single dancer: Herodias's daughter, Salome. Her performance so pleased Herod that, caught up by the adulation of the crowd, he promised her whatever she should ask for, even if it be half of his kingdom. Thus was the elaborate trap set, that having pronounced a rash oath before such an audience, his pride would not permit him to withdraw it cost him what it may. Upon asking her mother’s advice, Salome requested the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

Although inwardly regretful, in his pride Herod could not refuse the request. As St. Augustine so aptly described what followed, “an oath rashly taken was criminally kept.” A guard was sent to behead John in prison. Thus, the "voice crying in the wilderness" was silenced. The head of the Precursor was placed on a platter and presented to Salome, who gave it to her mother.

John’s holiness was so evident that the Jews thought he might be the Messiah who had been promised, but John had protested and denied it. At the Jordan, John had pointed out Christ in person exclaiming: "Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sin of the world. This is he, of whom I said: After me there comes one, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose sandal I am not worthy to loose.” And that there be no doubt as to Whom he meant: “And I saw, and I give testimony that this is the Son of God.”

From that moment onwards, an eclipse takes place: “He must increase, and I must decrease.” His mission was to announce the Messiah. Therefore, once the Lamb of God had arrived, the prophecy of St. John Baptist was fulfilled, and his public mission decreased as he headed toward his martyrdom. On the contrary, Our Lord would increase until the complete fulfillment of His divine mission. The humility of St. John the Baptist was rewarded.

After his martyrdom, his name was covered with glory. Our Lord said that no man born of woman was greater than he. It is impossible to have a higher praise or more honorable glorification. But this glory had as its foundation his most profound humility.

 


 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for May 5, 2021

Thou hast formed us for Thyself O Lord and our hearts are re...

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May 5

 

Thou hast formed us for Thyself O Lord
and
our hearts are restless
till they find rest in Thee!

St. Augustine of Hippo

 
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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Hilary of Arles

On one side, I saw the Lord calling me; on the other the wor...

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St. Hilary of Arles

Hilary was of a noble, patrician family of means and influence, a close relative of St. Honoratus and the founder of the Monastery of Lérins on the Mediterranean island of the same name, a monastery which is active to this day.

Wealthy, highly educated, and endowed with exceptional abilities, Hilary looked forward to a brilliant career in the world. But his saintly relative felt that he was called to serve his God in religious life and did his utmost to convince him to leave the things of the world.

After a fierce inner struggle, Hilary decided to sell his patrimony and follow his holy mentor to Lérins. He writes of this interior battle: “On one side, I saw the Lord calling me; on the other the world offering me its seducing charms and pleasures. How often did I embrace and reject, willed and not willed the same thing!  But in the end Jesus Christ triumphed in me. And three days after Honoratus had left me, the mercy of God, solicited by his prayers, subdued my rebellious soul.”

When Honoratus was elected Bishop of Arles in 426, being already an old man, he wished to have Hilary’s assistance and companionship, and himself traveled to Lérins to fetch his relation.
At Honoratus’ death in 429, Hilary, though grieving, rejoiced to return to his island abbey. He had started on his journey, when he was overtaken by messengers from the citizens of Arles begging him to accept the miter. Though only twenty-nine, he submitted, being well prepared for the task by his years of religious life and assistance to Honoratus. Though observing the austerities of the cloister, he took up his diocesan work with immense energy.

Known for his kindness and charity, he is also remembered for publicly rebuking a government official for bringing shame to the Church. He helped establish monasteries, and strengthened the discipline and orthodoxy of the Church through several councils. He sold Church property to ransom those kidnapped, and is said to have worked miracles in his lifetime.

Though his life was marked by some canonical disputes with Pope St. Leo I, the same Pontiff praised him in a letter to his successor, calling him, “Hilary of holy memory.”

He died on May 5, 449, just short of fifty years of age.

Second Image by: Esby

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

One of the stories that particularly touched me was Jacinta'...

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“Why Don’t They Tell us These Things”

JacintaIt often happens that while traveling with the Fatima statue we get into conversations with host families about the Fatima message. Such was the case one evening in Atlanta, Georgia while chatting with one father and his 12 year old daughter, Lillie.

The last time I had seen this girl was close to five years ago. In the interim, she has developed into a lovely respectful young lady with an artistic talent matched by her keen desire for knowledge.

The subject that evening was children who had attained sanctity. This naturally led to a conversation about the heroic sacrifices of the youngest seer at Fatima, Blessed Jacinta Marto.  I never tire of telling the story of her heroism that was so well recounted by William Thomas Walsh in his masterful book, Our Lady of Fatima

One of the stories that particularly touched me was Jacinta’s final illness with the dreaded flu of the time and her death — alone in a hospital far from home. It was actually there in the hospital that she had a private apparition in which Our Lady asked her if she would undergo such suffering for poor sinners. Jacinta unhesitatingly accepted but in her weak moments, she would break down in tears as she contemplated her situation. She was, after all, only 8 years old, dying in a strange hospital, far away from her mother and Lucia, whom she loved so much.   

However, she had an iron will and she would regain her composure the minute she remembered the good she was capable of doing for poor sinners by her suffering. Immediately she would wipe away her tears and offer up her suffering.

Telling this story, I noticed that Lillie was paying close attention absorbing it in all its details. Realizing this, I made it a point not to leave out any detail in the narration of the life of this heroic little girl. When I finished, Lillie asked a simple yet pungent question: “Why don’t they tell us these things?”

“That is a very good question,” I responded.

And although I don’t know if I know the answer, one thing I do know: young people are starving for marvelous examples like that of Blessed Jacinta Marto.

Written by Norman Fulkerson


Invitation to learn more about Blessed Jacinta Marto:

Jacinta’s Story is the Fatima story imaginatively told through the eyes of Blessed Jacinta Marto, the youngest of the three seers to whom Our Lady appeared in 1917 to deliver the most important message of our times. The book is hardbound and richly illustrated by author Andrea F. Phillips.

Jacinta’s Story contains many vital lessons for children—why it is so important that they pray the Rosary, obey their parents and follow the difficult but rewarding road of virtue in this life.

Visit our On-Line store to place your book order: https://store.tfp.org

One of the stories that particularly touched me was Jacinta's final illness with the dreaded flu of the time and her death — alone in a hospital far from home. 

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