Stand up to evil and oppose it. 
The book Ah, But Your Land Is Beautiful by Alan Paton contains a moving conversation between a white man and a black man. Both are putting their lives on the line for racial justice. At one point the white man turns to his black friend and says, "Things may be very rough for you. It won't be easy. What is your thinking about that?" The black man responds, "Well, I look at it this way. When I get up there, the great Judge will say, 'Where are your scars?' 
And if I say I haven't any, he will say, 'Were there no causes worthy of getting scars?' " Jeremiah and John the Baptist would have appreciated that conversation. What kind of scars will we be able to show God? "It is by those who suffer that the world has been advanced." Leo Tolstoy 
The context: Today’s Gospel presents the last scene of a tragic drama with three main characters, Herod, Herodias, and John the Baptist. Herod was a jealous, weak puppet-king with a very guilty conscience, who answered to Rome for his rule of one section of Israel, at that time a Roman subject-province. Herod feared the prophet John because John had publicly scolded him for divorcing his legal wife without adequate cause and for marrying his sister-in-law Herodias who was his niece, thus committing a double violation of Mosaic Law. Herodias was an immoral and greedy woman, stained by a triple guilt. She was enraged by John’s public criticism of her:
1) She was an unfaithful woman of loose morals.
2) She was a greedy and vengeful woman.
3) She was an evil mother who used her teenage daughter for the wicked purposes of murder and revenge by encouraging the girl to dance in public in the royal palace against the royal etiquette of the day.
John the Baptist was a fiery preacher and the herald of the Promised Messiah. He was also a Spirit-filled prophet with the courage of his prophetic convictions who dared to criticize and scold an Oriental monarch and his proud wife in public.
God’s punishment: After the martyrdom of John, Herod was defeated by Aretas, the father of his first wife. Later, both Herod and Herodias were sent into exile by Caligula, the Roman emperor.
Introduction As a witness to integrity and the honest truth, John the Baptist lost his life to cunning and violence. But he had to speak, whatever the consequences. God’s word cannot be muzzled. Does the Church – do we – have this courage today? 

Opening Prayer
Lord our God, St. John the Baptist prepared and went the way of your Son both in his birth and in his death. He died a martyr’s death because he stood up for integrity and truth. Give us the courage, we pray you, to speak out when needed in the name of the gospel and to bear witness in word and action to Christ Jesus, our Lord. 

Living in the present moment is the spiritual fad of the day. People talk about the power of “now.” They are right—it is necessary to learn how to live in the moment, without being encumbered by the ghosts of the past and the concerns of the future. However, being consumed by the present moment divorced from what is beyond the present has its dangers. King Herod respected John. He considered John to be upright and holy. He listened to him, even when what he heard disturbed him. Herod didn’t change his ways because no sooner did he hear the message than he forgot it, as the attractions of the next moment consumed him. He was so mesmerized by the dance of Herodias’s daughter that he forgot everything and promised everything, without realizing the implications. When the girl demanded the life of John, Herod was so consumed by the need to defend his honor in the moment that he forgot the demands of higher values that transcend the compulsions of the moment. Do I engage in the present moment in such a way that I live in discontinuity with the past and the future and the eternal values that inform them? 

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God, on the feast of your martyr John the Baptist we bring bread and wine before you to celebrate the memory of your Son. Give us John’s courage, to prepare and to be a straight road to your Son. May the message of our Christian living not be a voice in the wilderness but a humble way to Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Prayer after Communion
Lord our God, in a world of violence we are easily afraid of bearing witness to the good news of your Son. We prefer prudence to courage. Stir us up and move us forward in the strength of this eucharist to speak your word of justice and truth and to abide by it, that we may win the whole kingdom of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Story of the Martyrdom of John the Baptist
The drunken oath of a king with a shallow sense of honor, a seductive dance and the hateful heart of a queen combined to bring about the martyrdom of John the Baptist. The greatest of prophets suffered the fate of so many Old Testament prophets before him: rejection and martyrdom. The “voice crying in the desert” did not hesitate to accuse the guilty, did not hesitate to speak the truth. But why? What possesses a man that he would give up his very life?
This great religious reformer was sent by God to prepare the people for the Messiah. His vocation was one of selfless giving. The only power that he claimed was the Spirit of Yahweh. “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11).
Scripture tells us that many people followed John looking to him for hope, perhaps in anticipation of some great messianic power. John never allowed himself the false honor of receiving these people for his own glory. He knew his calling was one of preparation. When the time came, he led his disciples to Jesus: “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’ The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus” (John 1:35-37).
It is John the Baptist who has pointed the way to Christ. John’s life and death were a giving over of self for God and other people. His simple style of life was one of complete detachment from earthly possessions. His heart was centered on God and the call that he heard from the Spirit of God speaking to his heart. Confident of God’s grace, he had the courage to speak words of condemnation, repentance, and salvation.

Each of us has a calling to which we must listen. No one will ever repeat the mission of John, and yet all of us are called to that very mission. It is the role of the Christian to witness to Jesus. Whatever our position in this world, we are called to be disciples of Christ. By our words and deeds, others should realize that we live in the joy of knowing that Jesus is Lord. We do not have to depend upon our own limited resources, but can draw strength from the vastness of Christ’s saving grace.