Today is the Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist. It is one of the many dramatic stories that are found in Scripture. It is a horrendous story not simply because of the beheading of the greatest prophet of the Old Testament, but also because it is a story of a mother who is willing to tempt a stepfather with her own daughter in order to get revenge. Salome’s age is unknown, although icons and holy pictures always present here as a minor. If that is true, then we have the story of a mother encouraging either hebephilia or ephebophilia in order to get revenge on a prophet who called her to account on charges of adultery.
This is one of the more sordid stories recorded in Scripture. And yet, it is one of the more important stories. It is this judicial murder that becomes the catalyst for Jesus returning to Jerusalem. The New Testament records that when John the Baptist was arrested, Jesus left the area of the Jordan River and traveled north to Capernaum. But, a year later when Jesus hears of the death of his cousin, John the Forerunner, this becomes the catalyst for his return to Jerusalem. It is this event that convinces Jesus that the time has come, the fulfillment of his mission is near. The death of John the Baptist is the beginning of the events that lead to the Passion. The death of an innocent, his death, is the foreshadowing of the death of another innocent, Our Lord Jesus Christ, just like his conception was the first sign of the coming Messiah.