Today is the feast of St. John the Baptist, and the priest who celebrated the Mass we attended this morning gave a very interesting homily about him. He reminded us that St. John the Baptist was not afraid to speak out against sin, even though it ultimately cost him his life. Recall that King Herod, who was married, publicly took Herodias (the wife of his half-brother Phillip) as his mistress. St. John the Baptist spoke out against Herod's wickedness and Herod imprisoned him as a result. Herodias then plotted with her daughter Salome to have St. John the Baptist killed. (Mark 6:17-28).
As Christians, how often do we take an unpopular stand about what is right and wrong? When modern culture celebrates immoral behavior, are we willing to speak out in opposition?
Obviously, we must take care to direct our criticism towards the sinful behavior rather than towards the sinner. We are all sinners by virtue of being human, and Christ calls us to be merciful. Let us not forget, however, that in the famous passage about the Pharisees and the adulteress where Jesus told the Pharisees: "Let the one among you who is without sin cast the first stone." (John 8:7), He went on to tell the woman "Go, and sin no more." (John 8:11). We are called to be merciful towards sinners, but they are also clearly expected to refrain to the best of their ability from repeating that sin.
Fortunately, in our country, we do not have to worry that speaking out against sin will cause us to become a martyr like St. John the Baptist. However, we may still have to pay a price for sticking up for our beliefs. Those caught up in the hedonism will likely insult us. We might not get a hoped-for job as it appears Dr. James Holsinger, Jr. may not or even lose our jobs as Gen. Peter Pace did. It is not easy following the "narrow way" that Christ calls us to in Matthew 7:14. May we look to the example of St. John the Baptist to help us find the courage to speak out for what is right regardless of the price we may have to pay for doing so!