February 6, 2015

Gospel MK 6:14-29
King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying,
“John the Baptist has been raised from the dead;
That is why mighty powers are at work in him.”
Others were saying, “He is Elijah”;
still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.”
But when Herod learned of it, he said,
“It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”
Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers,
and the leading men of Galilee.
His own daughter came in and performed a dance
that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
“Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
Her mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request,
“I want you to give me at once on a platter
the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner
with orders to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter
and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
This powerful gospel passage is a mirror of human frailties and strengths that exist in people today.
Herod was a powerful man, riddled with fear; he feared John, he feared his wife, Herodias, and he feared the ridicule of his guests. The saying, “Never back a rat into a corner” fits Herod perfectly.
Herodias was a woman filled with hate. John had the hutzpah to expose her sinfulness for all to see. She was in a bitter rage of loathing toward him. Herodias is the epitome of the saying, “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned.”
Salome, the daughter, was a lost soul. So intent on pleasing her mother, she would perform a licentious dance before a room full of men and then ask for a man’s life as a reward. She has no knowledge of the truth: “People who strive for the approval of others are held captive by their opinion.”
John the Baptist was a man who knew himself and the desires of God, therefore, he had no fear of speaking the truth. For in his heart rang the old saying, “God’s approval should be your only standard for success.”
Rather than condemn or approve of the characters portrayed, I would be better served to examine myself to see where traces of their personality traits exist in me.
There are very few black and whites in life. We are mostly varying shades of gray. We should never strive to be perfect, for only God is perfect. My goal is to be the lightest shade of gray possible before I pass from this earth.
The path to personal growth is “self” examination.