Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist

People who try to be humble don’t impress me. They are like the man who tries to capture his shadow, to pocket it and then look peacock pious. Those who practice courage – well, that’s another tamale. John the Baptist, who stars in today’s Gospel, was a humble man of fortitude.

Fortitude is a combination of courage and patience. John was able to stand up to Herod with courage and then to sit with unfaltering determination in a dark prison abandoned by all, even by Christ. Courage without patience is bravado; patience without courage is self-deception.

We on the West Coast have been blessed with a number of newly appointed bishops of fortitude. In a John the Baptist-like manner they have stood up to the Herods of abortion, same sex marriage, contraception, euthanasia, secularization of Catholic schools and hospitals, Obama Care and the dishonest media.

For the most part they seem to be as victorious as was John the Baptist. So we pray that their losses not discourage them, but that, through John’s intercession, God give them the patience that sustained the Baptist in his dark cell, with Salome brandishing her platter in the wings. And we also pray that, like John’s followers, Christ will give us the reassurance that he is with us, showing us that true victory comes about only through his cross.

August 29th, 2014