John and James

Yesterday the Church's Liturgy remembered the Passion and Beheading of John the Baptist. While in past years I may have focused uniquely on the Baptist and his role in the drama of salvation, it was impossible to read the gospel without remembering James Foley, imprisoned and beheaded. James sent a last message to his family through a freed captive who had committed the words to memory. He said:

I remember going to the Mall with Dad, a very long bike ride with Mom. I remember so many great family times that take me away from this prison. Dreams of family and friends take me away and happiness fills my heart. I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray.

James's last words were for his grandmother:

Grammy, please take your medicine, take walks and keep dancing. I plan to take you out to Margarita’s when I get home. Stay strong because I am going to need your help to reclaim my life.

May the God of mercy reclaim the life of James Foley and may his prayers for his family come now bathed in light.

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Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.

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