Saturday, August 29, 2015
Reflection: Mark 6:17-29
The Passion of John the Baptist — Mark 6:17-29
On this feast of the Passion of John the Baptist, Mark writes of John’s arrest, imprisonment and death. It is a horrific story and it mirrors the atrocities that we human beings continue to perpetrate on one another. John’s crime was that he bluntly told Herod that it was not lawful for him to marry Herodias, his brother’s wife. When Herodias heard this, she harbored a grudge against John and she wanted to kill him. However, she did not have the authority nor the means to do so.
Herodias was a clever and conniving woman and she devised a plan. Herod had planned a great feast for Herodias’ birthday. He had invited many esteemed guests for this grand celebration. Herodias’ daughter performed a beautiful dance that enchanted Herod and his guests. Herod was so taken by her performance that he said to the girl: “Ask of me whatever you will and I give to you, even if you ask for half of my kingdom.”
The girl went and consulted with her mother. When she asked her mother what she should ask for, her mother immediately replied: “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl returned to Herod and told him that she wanted the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod was shocked and distressed. He admired John and respected him. Yet he had made a public oath. And all of his guests had witnessed his oath. What would they think of him if he did not keep his word? Herod truly was in a bind. Finally, he gave the order to have John beheaded. And so it was. John’s head was brought back to Herod on a platter. Herod gave it to the girl and the girl gave it to Herodias. And the feast continued.
I assume that at times all of us have been in a bind. Perhaps we were asked to do something that we knew was not right. And most likely, in the future we will be in a similar situation. It is difficult to stand up and do what is right, when there is pressure from others to please them or to conform. Do we have the strength and courage to stand our ground and do what is right and just? Or do we cave in to please others or to look good?
Today may we pray for the strength and courage to live what we believe, even if others may not approve of our choices and actions. May we strive to have the integrity and courage of John the Baptist, who stood firm in his beliefs even though it ended up costing him his head!