For years I couldn’t understand the role of St. John the Baptist in the life of Jesus. Then I discovered that St. John was a great evangelist! Of course we all know that! But I understood his role. By his boldness in proclaiming the Truth, he prepared the hearts of the Jewish people and called them to repentance and to conversion. When Jesus came and began to teach them, their hearts were then ready to receive His message. The soil had been tilled. (St. Bede the Venerable says in today’s Office of Readings that St. John was baptized in His own blood!) We too are called to be evangelists - speaking the Truth about God, with boldness and conviction, either with words or with the witness of our lives.
Today is the memorial of the beheading of St. John the Baptism. For an interesting commentary on St. John click on http://www.catholic.org/hf/faith/story.php?id=42594 (see Mk 6:17-29)
And here is an insight into St. John's fearlessness from the homily by St. Bede:
There is no doubt that blessed John suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our Redeemer, whose forerunner he was, and gave his life for him. His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say: I am the truth? Therefore, because John shed his blood for the truth, he surely died for Christ.
We too should not be silent about the Truth. It is unlikely that we will be called to shed our blood like St. John but speaking the Truth might entail some hardships. However, being with Jesus for all eternity is worth it!