There was a certain king who possessed a magic ring.
This ring, looked like any of the other rings that the King wore, except the fact that this ring had some influential powers.
Whenever some evil thought would cross across his mind, or if he was tempted to do some wrong thing, this ring would press painfully on the finger!
This would make the King realise that he was on the wrong track, and would quickly become aware of the paths of danger.
Perhaps, many of us – especially with the ease with which we often slip into the slush of sin – would wish that we too could possess such a ring…
… a ring that would prick us painfully, so that we become aware of the wrong we do
… a ring that would act as a reminder to prevent us from treading on the thorny tracks of sin
But how many of us do realise, that all of us have been blessed and adorned with this beautiful ring?
Perhaps, some of us are ignorant of it..
Perhaps, some of us have lost touch with it..
Perhaps, some of us have forgotten its presence…
This ring is nothing else but our Conscience!
Am I aware of the voice of the Conscience prompting me with its timely warnings and admonishing… ?
… or have I lost awareness of the Conscience, by my constant rejection and frequent refusal of its still, gentle voice…?
The Gospel of the Day is the dramatic re-telling of the story of the Martyrdom of St John the Baptist – a favoured victim of a “Deadened Conscience”!
One of the important focus subject of this “soul-stirring and heart-gripping” incident is the aspect of Conscience.
Conscience is the inner guide to determine the right from wrong.
The Catholic Church, in her teaching on the Conscience says:
“In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience.
Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to his heart: do this, shun that.
>> For man has in his heart a law written by God; to obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged.
Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his depths.”
The Education of the Conscience is a life-long task.
However, as a person grows up – going through various experiences in life – there can be…
… errors that creep into the conscience
… areas in the conscience that are never informed
Hence, the formation of the Conscience is to be of utmost importance in the moral life of a person – a formation that has the Word of God as the light for our path!
In the Gospel, we encounter King Herod, who failed to give heed to the Word of God, prophetically spoken by John the Baptist.
>> The Word of God was directly addressed to him…
… but he chose to reject it.
The Result: His conscience became subdued and the voice of his own personal desires grew louder in the depths of his heart!
>> The Word of God was put forward to him and challenged his moral integrity and his lustful life…
.. but he failed to give any heed to the call to repent or change.
The Result: His conscience was stifled and its gentle voice was drowned in the ocean of adulterous appetite and carnal cravings.
This danger is a possibility in so many of our lives too…
>> We hear God’s Word telling us not to do certain things, or forbids us from following a particular lifestyle…
… but often, we don’t give any consideration to it, and live life “bindaas – without any fear”
>> We are informed by people who care for us, on the need to mend our ways or to live a life which is more disciplined or oriented towards our faith…
… but sometimes, we just don’t bother about it, or pretend as if “We know to live our lives, without anyone’s advices”
>> We come to know of the many wrongs that We indulge ourselves in, or are made aware of the sinful paths that We may be treading across…
… but quite often, we sink into the waters of lethargy or indifference or climb up the mountain of pride and arrogrance
The Result? : Our conscience becomes weakened… fails to become a forceful power in our lives… and slowly, stutters towards a crippling death!
The powerfully intense story of the Beheading of John the Baptist is a mighty call for us to give greater heed to the formation of our conscience.
Can we take some practical resolutions ( just to mention a few) to help towards the same…
>> Making a daily examination of conscience (ideally twice a day – noon and night – or at least at the end of the day)
…. consciously going through each activity of the day
.. thanking the Lord for all His blessings at every step of the day
… discovering the moments when we have strayed away from His paths and failed to do His Will
… make deliberate and practical decisions to amend them, and to foster actions of goodness
>> Reading the Word of God – seeking to assimilate It and moulding one’s lives as per the Sacred Will of God
… setting apart, strictly, at least a few minutes of the day ( A day consists of 1440 minutes!) to spend time with the Word of God
>> Seeking to spend more time in personal prayer (ideally and whenever possible, before the Most Blessed Sacrament)
… The conscience derives strength, clarity and cleansing, when presented before its Creator!
>> Strengthening our Sacramental life especially in the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Holy Confession
… making it a point to participate in the Holy Eucharist more often (with wholehearted preparation and due reverence)
… resolving to make a Confession at very regular times (probably, once in a month), realizing that Confession is not only for “forgiveness of sins” but also “for grace to be stronger and courageous in one’s spiritual life)
May the words of St Euphrasia, the saint from India, who was recently canonized ( Nov 23, 2014):
“May your heart be an altar, from which the bright flame of unending thanksgiving ascends to heaven”
… and her intercession, inspire and help us to constantly have the ‘beautiful ring” of our conscience in tune with God’s Will and helping us to live a life of complete commitment and courageous passion, like St John the Baptist.
God Bless! Live Jesus!