It was August 2007. I was sitting in the waiting room of a tattoo parlor with sweaty hands. Trying to process how I, the girl who is petrified of needles, ended up in this place, remembering the conversation I had the day before with the boy I had a crush on.
“You know what we should do to celebrate finishing our second week of college? You should get your belly button pierced and I should get another tattoo!“
I thought he was kidding. In what way does poking a hole near my internal organs sound like fun, I thought? Not wanting to ruin his excitement, though, I played along with his idea. He bought into my enthusiasm and picked up his phone to call the tattoo parlor to book our appointments.
So there we sat . . . .
“The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her.” (Mark 6:26)
Just as I was filled with distress from my experience at the tattoo parlor, so too was Herod distressed as he agreed to have John executed. Even though he knew John was a “righteous and holy man” (Mark 6:20), he agreed to have him beheaded simply because of his desire to impress the guests at his party. His “yes” to pleasing others ultimately meant the end to another man’s life.
As we celebrate the memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist today, let us reflect on Saint John’s constant yes to God. How he chose to speak the truth to Herod, even though it led him to being thrown in jail and murdered. How he wasn’t afraid to call out the Sadducees and Pharisees as he fearlessly baptized (Matthew 3:7). How, unlike me, he wasn’t willing to do something just to get someone to like him.
Let us all reflect on the ways can we be more like Saint John and less like a people pleaser. Maybe you have been skipping Mass on the weekends in order to spend that precious summer time at the lake. Or perhaps you have been gossiping at the lunch table because you don’t want to be left out. Whatever your struggle may be, don’t be afraid to ask the Lord for strength to say yes to Him.
Live like Saint John and have courage.
Joan Geiger is a North Dakota native and newlywed, and in her spare time she can be found going on adventures with her husband, working as a Registered Dietitian, and drinking coffee. You can find out more about her here.