FR. BEN’S HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE BEHEADING OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
THEME: THE VOICE OF PROPHESY SHALL NEVER BE SILENT!
BY: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
HOMILY FOR MONDAY AUGUST 29 2022
*Jer 1 :17 – 19, Mk 6 :17 – 29.
‘As for you, prepare yourself for action. Stand up and tell them all I command you… and in their presence I will make you fearless’.
That was the divine mandate that empowered Prophet Jeremiah and indeed all the prophets including John the Baptist whose demise we celebrate today. According to William Barclay, ‘A Prophet is one who comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable’. John had told Herod the King: ‘It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife’. He may likely have said it in public and that’s why Herodias was terribly hurt and intent on killing the man of God. But the Bible says that Herod was in awe of John, knowing him to be a good and upright man and gave him protection. When he heard him speak, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him. Such is the power of a prophet: He has the wisdom of God in his mind, the courage of God in his heart and the truth of God in his lips always.
‘They will fight against you but will not overcome you for I am with you’, Yahweh declares, ‘to rescue you’. But in the case of John the Baptist, it was such a tragic story. It took 3 wicked factors to bring down the great man of God: (a) The drunken oath of a shallow minded king, (b) The seductive dance of a beautiful girl and (c) The hateful heart of a bitter Queen. I should have put it in reverse order. But at the bottom line of everything was the courageous witnessing to truth and justice by this hero, John the Baptist , that we celebrate today. Their lives remain points of contact for modern day challenge of prophetism. Let me state it clearly here now that there are 2 types of ‘devils’ roaming around the Church of today: the one that challenges authorities (whether civil or ecclesiastical) when they are in error without fear and prudence and the one that praises the authorities like sychophants even when they are in error without shame and integrity. I detest the latter more than the former.
I can still hear the likes of Chinua Achebe crying out loud that ‘The problem with Nigeria is purely and squarely that of lack of leadership’. With Nigeria still surrounded by the Herods, the Pilates, the Chimarokes, the Mbakas, the Jonathans, the Buharis, the Gburugburus, the Okobos, the Onahs, the Gbujis, the Onaikans, the Kukahs, the Okoyes and even the Agbos, history keeps repeating itself but we are not discouraged. With so much homilitic prudence, theological refinements and linguistic niceties, I am afraid whether the ‘Johns’ can still tell the ‘Herods’ the raw truth: ‘It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife’. ‘It is not in the interest of Nigeria now for you to support this or that Candidate!’. We need more John the Baptists who will be good and upright enough, courageous and wise enough to do just this now in Nigeria because our people are dying for lack of knowledge.
May God bless you today!