August 29, 2021

Homily on the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

We now solemnly remember with awe and reverence the beheading of the honorable head of the holy, glorious, prophet, forerunner and baptist of the Lord, John. Why is the beheading of John so venerable, so important and dear to everyone?

Because of the truth, he suffered; because of the truth, his head was cut off; and the truth is dear to all, because in it is the salvation of all.

What would happen on earth if the truth was not observed between people, if the truth was not so kept, respected? Then no one could live on earth. The society of unrighteous and deceitful people cannot exist for a long time: they will be destroyed by themselves or they will destroy each other. Where righteousness is not observed, there is an end near of everything, and unrighteous gain is always dust. Where the truth is not stored, there soon everything perishes, and lawless life is death.

What would the earth be without the sun? Gloomy, cold, a dead desert. And without the truth it would be even worse on earth. Truth is more needed than the sun for people. And that is why the greatest blessing is done to the human race by the one who implants the truth on earth.

That is why the beheading of John the Baptist is venerable, important, dear to all: he, teaching people the truth, proclaiming the truth, proved with his head that the truth is worthy of all respect and the truth should be dear to all; by his suffering, he made others love the truth and honor the truth. If he stopped telling Herod that it was unacceptable for him to have his brother's wife as a wife, then many might think that they could live in this way. By his martyrdom, everyone became convinced that Herod's lawless life is indeed lawlessness; thus, righteousness also triumphs when the righteous die. It is then that truth especially triumphs, when the righteous one dies for her: blood shed for the truth, is the most eloquent sermon about the truth.

Christian listeners! People suffer, die, just to teach everyone to love the truth and to preserve the truth, and the least we can do is live in truth, in order to urge others to love the truth and honor the truth. And from one of our untruths, hundreds of untruths will be born, which is harmful for us; likewise our one illegal act teaches many to break the law, to our detriment.

So let us, listeners, both for ourselves and for others, love the truth and keep the truth. Untruth is not good for anyone, and lawlessness is bad for everyone. Honoring the beheading of John the Baptist, let us honor the truth that he so wished to establish. Amen.