Homily for the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist June 24, 2018
Recently I was revisiting the story of the battle at Thermopylae, where, as the Greek Historian Herodotus tells us, 300 Spartans (and several other Greeks) held off a huge Persian army for far longer than they should have been able to.
The story is told today, as it was at the time of Herodotus, as a story about the incredible resilience of the patriot who, for love of country and family and freedom is capable of great sacrifice. The story is also very much about the Spartans, who were a warrior people. They trained their boys from a very young age to be nothing else but soldiers. Their society was entirely dedicated to warfare, yes, but in their eyes it was more than just that. It was a society dedicated to the perfection of the human will over the weakness of human flesh. The saying in Greece was that Athens and Thebes built statues; Sparta built men.
As I considered the story of the Spartans and their valor at Thermopylae, I found myself in a kind of awe for their people. However, I could not ignore the fact that these were a brutal people. They were not a Christian people. They did not know the true God. And if they had, they would certainly have rejected him as the Athenians did when St. Paul came and spoke to them.
I bring this up because Read More