The Venerable St Bede stated that John the Baptist, "Showed in his struggle a goodness worthy of the sight of heaven...suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our Redeemer...His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth." From early on we have the idea that John the Baptist does not withhold his challenge to profess faith with one's life, and to articulate a life of righteousness. The Collect today muses that he gave his life as a witness to truth and justice. Something that all baptized believers are called to.
This feast is a reminder of the radical nature of the Gospel. The suffering and death of Jesus are powerful signs of the intense love of God the Father. More so we look at the Beatitudes in Matthews Gospel, or the last judgment scene some twenty chapters later, and we see that the sacred scriptures are not easy on what is expected of us. There is a holiness of life which identifies our response to God's graciousness and love. Our 'Amen' is given when we are faithful to our prophetic vocation as the Children of God.
From one generation to the next we have come to see what happens in our society within a culture when we do not stand against evil, and fail to challenge Sin and sinfulness. Being a peacemaker is as much about giving a cup of water to a thirsty man or woman as it does in exposing the Sinful elements which allowed the thirst in the first place. Just as God love the world, we are asked to have a love and concern of the world.
This feast reminds us to seek the truth in all times and in all places. Like Jeremiah, Isaiah, and all of the prophets, we can be assured that folks will not always be comfortable we speak the truth or advocate justice. But it is the right and the best thing to do. So we pray to the Holy Spirit and work to bring about true freedom and peace. Like John we have to have the courage to stand in the way of evil and show the value of being good. Let John help is in determining what is proper to do.