Here is part of today’s Gospel, from St Mark: ‘For when Herodias’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it.” And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” And she went out, and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the baptiser.” And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb’.

John had said of Jesus, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’. He was already in prison when the moment of his death came, and he accepted it, we may believe, with gentleness and a sense of the Will of God. The herald had proclaimed his message and the Messiah was here.

May John the Baptist pray for us, and for all who are persecuted for their stand of faith, even unto death; and may God bless you this day.