The Beheading of John the Baptist

Image“Boy, it’s noisy up there, I wonder what’s going on.  The guard told me that King Herod was having a big party and here I am, stuck down here.  Accused of nothing, I’ve been told, but still stuck, and for how long?

I would think he’d be here by now to get me out of here.  He knows that I’m here.  After all, we are cousins. And we’ve done so much together.  Surely he doesn’t want me to stay here and rot.

It’s funny but I remember my mom telling me that I leaped in her womb when he was still in his mother’s womb.  Talk about symbiosis!  You don’t get connections closer than that.  Growing up, I often wondered what I wanted to do in my life.  Not too many clues for me.  I thought of being a dentist until I observed their teeth; I thought I’d be poor in no time. An athletic career interested me for a time until I figured out that my parents were older than my friend’s grandparents!  (Playing ball with my dad was never a consideration.)  I then began to work on some thoughts about what happens to us after we die.  It just seemed important to me to announce to people that there was something more than this.

So I would stand on street corners and try my best; I thought I was pretty good but something inside me always thought that something or someone was missing but I didn’t know what or who it was.  I wondered if I was just not cut out for this “street preaching” stuff or was it that I missing the message?  I’m not sure.  He kinda helped me along a little with his talk about a “kingdom” beyond and how we should treat each other here and now but it all seemed so vague to me until that time I spent in the desert.  Did you just hear that?  I hear footsteps.  He’s coming down to get me out of this mess.  I can’t wait.

You know, I expected him to come and get me out a couple of weeks ago but something must have held him up.  He certainly doesn’t want me to stay down here.  That noise up there is getting louder.  I remember when he was younger, he would ask me all kinds of questions.  I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t know the answers since I was the older one.  Boy, the good talks we had together and the sports we played were all wonderful times.  Wait, I think those footsteps are getting closer.  Great.  He’s finally coming for me; it’s high time.  But you know like I was saying, I always thought he was holding something back.  I couldn’t put my finger on it but it was like there was something more that neither of us were sure of.  God, why he’s not here now helping me out is beyond me.

You may not know this but awhile ago I sent a messenger, a good friend of mine, to ask him if he was the One or if we should be waiting for someone else.  I thought a trick question like that might have reminded him that I’m still stuck down here.  Well anyway, my friend comes back and tells me how my cousin is healing leprosy and making blind people see and restoring hearing to the deaf.  Speaking of hearing, I hear those footsteps again, I think that it’s him to unstuck me from this stuck place.  So anyway, I start thinking to myself if he’s doing all that good stuff for them, you know, people he doesn’t know and I’m family and all, then why am I buried down here in this dank place with that music roaring above me?

Doesn’t he think I’m worth it to be released?  Does he think that I committed a crime and deserves this?  How long is that noisy party up there going to last?

I thought I knew what was going on when I did my desert stint awhile back.  Wow, you talk about roughing it.  I was alone eating only locusts and wild honey.  Have you ever eaten locusts and wild honey?  (And what’s so wild about “honey?”)  Trust me, you do not want to eat locusts without some honey.  And wearing the camel’s hair – in the desert?  What part didn’t you hear?  Camel-Hair-Desert.  I don’t think I need to say more on the subject, do you?  But I really felt that what I was doing there was worth it.  I mean, when I left the desert people came from all over just to listen and talk to me and all I was saying was, “A voice is calling in the wilderness, prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”  I don’t know what prompted me to say those things, they just kinda sounded right and naturally came out.  I meant what I said.  Oh good, I hear those footsteps again, this just has to be him to get me out of this.  Who else could it be?

I hate to get picky but just guess who it was who baptized him?  Moi.  That’s right.  I know that I told the folks around us that he’d be doing this himself in the future but also with fire and the Holy Spirit but still!  Put it together: Jordan river-Jesus-Me-Voice from Above. You put it together and what do you come up with?  You’d think that, at least, he’d remember that much.  I think that would be enough to get me out of here.  I know that I mentioned that ‘not touching his sandals’ part but it was only for effect.  There were a lot of people there watching and listening to me.  And don’t even start about the heavenly voice claiming this man was his son along with a dove to make it really official.  If all that is true then I’d be God’s nephew! Wow.  Uncle God! I must really be a part of this family!

That party’s getting louder up there.  They must be dancing or something going on while I’m down here.  I hear those same footsteps getting closer now too.  Since we were older I felt like I was just the front guy who everybody likes until the real show begins.  I guess it wasn’t me to take the stage after all but to get the stage ready for somebody else.  Like a relative of mine?  Like someone I know well and trusted enough to introduce to the world.  Somebody with a message that would be greater than mine.  I think I get it.  You know, looking back I think I did a pretty good job of getting the folks ready to hear his message.  I guess you could say that I got them excited and ready to hear something important and special, and he gave it to them.

Go figure, as soon as I begin to give up on him he decides to come along and get me out of this mess.  What a cool surprise.  Just when I thought he’d forgotten me.  The footsteps stopped.  I know it’s him.”


About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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