the Festival of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Sermon Starter

Jesus called him the greatest of all, one who towered above all men who are born of women (St. Matthew 11:11). John the Baptist was greatest next to the One who is greatest of all, Jesus Himself. The gospel recounts for us the demise and death of St. John the Baptist. What an ignoble end for one who so faithfully pointed to Christ as the coming One who was to save the world from sin.

The church calls John a martyr. The paraments are red, indicating such. Why do we say John was a martyr? After all, John was arrested because a vain woman did not like what he had to say about marriage. John was beheaded because of trickery and the foolishness and arrogance of Herod. He was beheaded because a young girl danced and enticed a foolish ruler to make a vain promise. Is this what we call martyrdom?