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Homilies :: Latin Rite

August 29, 2015

Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist

1Thes 4:9-11,

Mk 6:17-29

Mass Readings: Text | Audio


The correlation between cause and effect was known to humanity from time immemorial. The theory of Karma, the law of causality, and Newton’s third law of motion are all expressions of the very same truth articulated using diverse terminologies. As Vedas rightly sum up, Ekam sat, vipra bahudha vadanthi (Reality is one, learned people speak of it differently). We often hear people saying, “What goes around comes around.” This is exactly what happened in the case of King Herod as well. His past was catching up. In many Indian languages the word for the past is bhootham. The word bhootham also means ghost. In fact, ghosts are nothing but the past catching up. The unsettled issues of the past will definitely catch up sooner or later. On coffins and tombs we write RIP. Of course, that is our wish and prayer that he or she may rest in peace. But, in order to enter into a peaceful rest one should first settle the account with the past. The best definition for justice is given by Jesus: Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God. In other words, give everyone his or her due. That is justice. When we deny justice, we are generating ghosts that will definitely haunt our present as well as our future until justice is done. At his death John the Baptist was at peace, because he has successfully completed his mission. On the cross Jesus too was at peace, but not King Herod. How can he rest until he pays the price? John did not come back to take revenge. It was in the unsettled mind of King Herod that got confused Jesus with John. He has no escape from this basic divine law. In fact, the law of nature, the law of science and the law of God are all basically the same – in simple terms: one who eats salt will drink lots and lots of water!


Immediately, somebody may ask, “Then how come good people suffer? Are their sufferings the result of their sins?” Such questions arise from shortsightedness and ignorance. If I say, “The earth is round”, somebody may dispute with me saying, “No, you are wrong, the earth is flat. Can’t you see that it is flat?” If I say, “Sun never rises or sets”, somebody may say, “No, you are lying. Are you blind?” Any amount of arguments is to convince such people, until they advance in knowledge and wisdom. Meanwhile, Herodias tried to save her new husband by eliminating the dissident voice through a foul play. Though she managed to have the head of John on a platter she could not save her husband. There is no shortcut to peace. Justice is a prerequisite to have peace. Justice is giving everybody his or her due. No shortcuts! The Jewish priests and scribes, for their own benefit taught their followers to offer as Korban what should be given to their parents. The magnificent temple and the immense wealth they accumulated thus are no more there. Looking at that temple Jesus predicted, “Not one stone will be left on another. Every stone will be thrown down to the ground” (Mk 13:2). Even today, in spite of all the prayers and deliberations they could not rebuild that temple. Now you please tell me whether the earth is round or flat!

Dr Kurian Perumpallikunnel CMI