Beheading of St John the Forerunner – Discernment and Wisdom

Beheading of St John the ForerunnerIn the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, let us remember the St John the Forerunner of our Lord and Christ!

As we reflect on St Mark 6:14-30, we see the vulnerability of King Herod when his daughter came forward with the unreasonable request of wanting St John the Forerunner’s head on a platter, at the behest of the queen. We see a king, holding tremendous power and wealth over a people, and yet, at the request of a child, no matter how beloved this child may be, this king immediately collapses into foolishness, and killed a holy saint. Power and wealth does not define a person’s wisdom, and in many cases, clouds his wisdom.

Wisdom can be a gift from God (Proverbs 4:5-9, Ecclesiastes 2:26), but it should not be something we hunger after like a passion, nor should we worship wisdom. We worship God, and we remember that wisdom, as with many of God’s unique gifts, are part of His Mercy for us. We must always be as children (St Matthew 18:4), and seek our God with our bare and honest hearts. In a simple, quiet and honest prayer unto God, we will find the greatest treasure God intended for us.

St John the Forerunner had wisdom gifted by God. He was never proud, but showed us the coming of our Lord and Christ (Acts 13:25-32). St John never abused his spiritual gifts, and always taught that the Lord would be coming, and with that, our eternal salvation. St John did not ever imagine that he was a savior of people, even as he was gifted by God. That is wisdom, to recognize that God, in His infinite Mercy, can gift us with many treasures, and yet we cannot and should not be blinded by our own passions.

Foolishness has many facets, although most cases of foolishness is mere folly. But there is a kind of foolishness that is uncommon. We call those “fool-for-Christ” or Yurodivyi (Russian). The Scriptural reference can be found in 1 Corinthians 3:18-19, “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.”

One who drops all his worldly passions and seeks Christ and only Christ, may well be perceived by the increasingly insane world, as insane instead. The majority does not define sanity, nor does the majority define holiness. God is our final arbiter.

The first such saint, a fool-for-Christ, was St Andrew of Constantinople. The path of a fool-for-Christ is ascetic and difficult. St Andrew was despised by many because they thought he was mad, and the saint silently endured all, and God gifted the saint with prophesy and wisdom, including that of seeing our Lord Jesus Christ, angels and saints, just as the Apostle Paul saw as a gift from God. May the holy saint pray for us.

To every doubt and question we have for the world, we may reason and argue, perhaps for scientific or legalistic sparring. But the heart of the matter is that when we intend to seek God and His Kingdom, then it is down to a simple truth – becoming little children, and praying humbly and simply, and repenting often. Little children will always try to walk in baby steps, fall down, cry, and get back up again. That is what we have to do when we seek our God in our journeys. And God, hearing our cries, will cradle and carry us.

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

Ecclesiastes 2:26
Proverbs 4:5-9
St Mark 6:14-30
Acts 13:25-32