“What shall I ask for?” (Mark 6:24).
Sir 47:2-11; Mark 6:14-29
One of the odd privileges of martyrdom is that the way a good person dies often points eloquently to the way they lived. For example, Oscar Romero was shot through the heart while standing at the altar. Martin Luther King Jr was killed by a bullet to the jaw that silenced one of the most eloquent voices of our time.
John the Baptist died struggling to understand if Jesus was the Messiah. He had promised someone who would bring God’s justice, and Jesus instead had proclaimed God’s unconditional mercy. What his head could not grasp, his heart understood. He entered the kingdom of God heartfirst, but headless.
Few of us will understand the mystery of either our life or our death. What is important is that we try to live consciously and deliberately in the will of God.
Jesus lived and died at the crossroads of sin and grace, human longing and divine promise. Faith is a free-fall surrender, head over heels into the mystery of God. However long it takes or however much we resist, love’s gravity will bring us down to the deepest desire of all, a full circle return to the source of our being, complete at last. How we arrive there will be God’s final gift to us.