It is a gruesome story and sad end for the Baptizer who made straight the way in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord. I know Stephen is the first martyr of the church but John is the first one to die for the cause. That is not to say he fully understood it even if in baptizing Jesus he recognized the One who was greater than he. (Mark 1:7) While in prison John sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the one or should they look for another. Jesus sent them back to tell John “the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and good news is proclaimed to the poor.” (Matthew 11:5) Maybe Jesus’ response emboldened John to continue to be a voice in the wilderness, albeit confined in Herod’s prison, telling “that fox” (Luke 13:32) to get out of the hen house. (aka Herodias) But then John was not a “reed shaking in the wind” or one destined to wear fine clothes. (Matthew 11:7) He was born to be a prophet and “more than a prophet” but like so many prophets before him he paid the price for speaking the truth to power. Jesus will have his own day in court when the crowd demands its due and the prophet from Galilee suffers the same fate as those who went before him. The difference is that even the grave could not silence the Word made flesh. John the baptizer was blessed to know he was included in the word that Jesus sent him. We stand in that prophetic tradition as people called to speak the truth and not count the cost for the word sent to John includes us. The dead are raised.