Friday, February 6, 2015

Reflection: Mark 6:14-29

Fourth Week in Ordinary Time – Mark 6:14-29

Herod had John arrested and put into prison, as his wife Herodias requested. Herodias had been married to Herod’s brother, Philip. However, Herod desired Herodias for himself and eventually he married her.

Today’s Gospel focuses on the tale of John the Baptist, Herod and Herod’s illicit wife, Herodias. John publicly had criticized both of them for having an illicit union. And naturally, Herod and Herodias were angry with John and his censure. Who did John think he was? Herodias was so angry with John that she wanted to have him killed. However, Herod believed that John was a holy man. Herod had enjoyed listening to John preach. Thus, Herod refused to have John arrested.

On the occasion of his birthday, Herodias gave a grand banquet for Herod. However, Herodias had another agenda; she had devised a scheme. During the banquet, Herod’s daughter came and danced for Herod and his guests. Herod was extremely pleased with his daughter and wanted to thank her. Herod told his daughter that she could ask him for anything and he would give it to her. As we know, his daughter consulted with her mother, Herodias. Herodias told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist served on a platter. And her daughter did so.

Herod was extremely distressed. Herod had great respect for John despite the fact that he had him arrested! Thus, Herod was in a quandary. He publicly had told his daughter that he would give her anything she desired. How could he say no to her request? Eventually, Herod gave way and did as his daughter had asked: he had John beheaded.

John is a wonderful model and guide for us. He spoke out in the face of injustice. John did not pander to royalty or wealth. John put his life on the line for what he believed. Do we speak what we believe, especially if our opinion or thoughts deviates from the norm? Or do we simply keep silent? Or if directly asked, do we fudge on our response? Or do we simply avoid the question?

I assume that most of us do not like to say or do the hard thing. Yet, if we truly consider ourselves followers of Jesus, at times this means we do need to speak the truth we believe even if it is not the popular opinion. Today may we ask Jesus for the courage to speak and act on our beliefs---even if it may upset the other person. Today may we ask John to share his courage, honesty and directness with us!

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