First of all, just to say, what a great painting of the beheading of Saint John. Even as the executioner places the still dripping head onto the platter held by the slutty daughter of Herod — (and will I get arrested for that comment even today by the LGBTTIQQ2SMAPAVMZ crowd?) — you can see the utterly calm expression of Saint John, even as you can witness the “I’ve now come of age” look given by the girl to her mother, to whom she delivers the head. Yikes!
You have to understand that times don’t change. If you search out the history of persecutions of the Church in any given age or place, you’ll see that there is always a percentage who are faithful, indeed martyred, and a percentage who become persecutors, and a percentage who couldn’t care less, you know, the lukewarm crowd that God will vomit away, as we read in the book of Revelation.
Sure, any given culture may be “nice” — for a while — but then some knucklehead stirs things up for a persecution. It’s not that what was in the pot changed at all. He just stirs it up. “Nice” turns into murder. But it was always that way under the surface. The same people who turn into the murderers are the ones who were simply “nice”, but who didn’t really believe. These are the gossips, slanderers, the “in” people, who have nothing to do but tear others down, pretending to build themselves up.
It’s great when most people are going to confession, as this cuts down on the “niceness” of people, having them be in humble thanksgiving and be about enthusiastically helping each other out, because it is then, and only then, that people come to realize how much our Lord Jesus did for them in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
He still bears those wounds, for us. That is… for ourselves. Yep. We did that. I did that. If anyone wants to say something about another, say the same thing that is to be said about ourselves, that we persecuted the Son of the Living God, that we were sons of the devil until our Lord took us to Himself. He sanctifies us.
I deserve to get my head cut off because I’ve crucified the Son of the Living God because of my sins, original sin and otherwise. And then, by His grace, I deserve to have my head cut off because I’ve just said such a thing, proclaiming faith in the Son of the Living God. That’s how that works.
I would behead John the Baptist, because that is just how evil I am apart from the grace of God. As are we all, without exception. But I would join John, as would we all, in living by the grace and friendship provided by the Son of the Immaculate Conception.
And that’s nothing to be frightened about. This is the epic drama that is playing out at any given time in any given place, without exception, until the return of the Son of Man, of God, of the Immaculate Conception, upon this earth. We can be, in fact, as calm about it, as filled with humble thanksgiving about it, as is Saint John depicted above. What an expression on his face! How wonderful is that? Very wonderful indeed.