We were on retreat from June 23 to 27. Young and energetic Bp. Ambo David was our retreat master. On the second day, June 24, Feast of St. John the Baptist, he gave a reflection on the role of the Baptist in God's plan of salvation. He was reflecting on the Eucharist as a commemoration. He said that the life of John the Baptist provided an important context to it. But what was striking in his reflection was the possibility that John was not actually beheaded. There was no doubt about him having been executed. It was was not certain if it was a beheading. Bp. Ambo said that it was the John the Baptist movement which was really beheaded as a result of the death of the Baptist, the leader of his own movement. The beheading story in the gospel was actually the story of "headless" characters save for John. That is why he was the one beheaded. The others were already "headless"! Herod, Herodias, the young daughter, the people in the gathering, and the executioners. They were acting "headlessly". They were ignoring the truth and challenge being brought forth by John. The absence or lack of appreciation of John's message made them all "headless". That is why it was very symbolic that John offered his head for these headless people!
To be considered "headless" is to merely live life automatically. More instinctive than reflective. Not using one's head means just living emotionally and according to feelings. God gave us the capacity to observe, appreciate, evaluate, relate, and make reasonable conclusions on the state of things. An animal may have a brain like a human being, but it does not have the wisdom and freedom of a human being. God gave us the authority and power to steward all of creation. Together with that power and authority are the gifts to do it. That is why man was created on the last day and in His image and likeness. Man is the most important of all.
But if man does not use his God-given talent to think, he relegates himself to an animal. No wonder, when we act unacceptably and unreasonably, we call each other names like; beast, crab, monkey, snake, rat etc. This just means that as human beings, we are expected not to act by mere instinct, but honorable and dignified as God formed us to be.
When we were young, it iwas not uncommon to hear our parents and elders telling us "Use your head!". They were reminding us that we have something between our two ears which could help us appreciate and deal with what is at hand meaningfully and satisfactorily.
In our society today, who can we consider as "headless"?