The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. Matthew 6:25-27
This sad story, of the beheading of John the Baptist, reveals much to us. It reveals, above all, the mystery of evil in our world and God’s permissive will in allowing evil, at times, to flourish. Yes, God has clearly allowed those whom He loves to suffer greatly throughout history. What does this tell us?
First of all, we should not forget the obvious fact that the Father allowed the Son to suffer greatly and to be murdered in a horrific way. Jesus’ death was brutal and shocking. Does this mean the Father did not love the Son? Certainly not.
The fact of the matter is that suffering is not a sign of the disfavor of God. If you suffer and are given no relief by God it is not because God has abandoned you. It is not that he does not love you. In fact, the opposite is most likely true. Some day we will truely understand the reasoning for all this suffering here on earth. We need trust God that all this suffering is for a greater purpose and offer our sufferings up to him, in the same way that we offer our prayers to him.
John the Baptist’s suffering is in fact, the greatest sermon John the Baptist could have preached. It illustrates his unwavering love of God and from God’s perspective, John’s fidelity is infinitely more valuable than his continued physical life or the physical sufferings.
The Father’s response to Jesus, John and outselves is a call to enter into the mystery of our sufferings in this life with faith, hope, confidence and fidelity. Never let the hardships of life deter us from our fidelity toward the will of God.
Lord, may I have the strength of Your Son and the strength of St. John the Baptist as I carry my own crosses in life. May I remain strong in faith and filled with hope as I hear You calling me to embrace my cross. Jesus, I trust in You. Amen