BEHEADING On this day we remember the beheading of St John the Baptist. The life of St. John the Baptist intertwines with that of Jesus many times. Their first "meeting" occurred when both were still in their mother's wombs (see The Visitation). John became the precursor of the Lord, the one "crying in the wilderness", announcing the coming of the Lord, and identifying him to the people. When John began his public life, many thought that he was the Messiah. But he said, "One mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to loose "(Luke 3:16) Later on St John was to baptise Our Lord in the waters of the River Jordan, and on seeing Him, John said, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (Jn 29) Jesus was to make a positively unique remark about St. John, "among those born of woman, there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist." (Luke 7:26-28)
Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, in visiting Rome, had met Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, and he took her as his wife. St John spoke out against this adulterous and incestuous relationship, and as a result was thrown into prison. At a feast in honour of Herod's birth, Salome, the daughter of Herodias greatly pleased Herod by her dance, and he swore to give her whatever she asked. Salome spoke to her mother who told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a plate, so that she could have her revenge on him for speaking out against her and Herod. Herod was upset at this request, but would not back out of his promise in public; and so a soldier was sent to the prison, beheaded St. John and brought his head back, and it was presented to Salome and Herodias. This happened about a year before the death of Christ, and since St John was born some six months before Christ, it means that both had a similar life span of about 33 years.

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