Friday, February 5, 2016

Reflection: Mark 6:14-29

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

Today’s Gospel focuses on the tale of John the Baptist, Herod, and Herod’s illegitimate wife, Herodias.  John had criticized both of them publicly for having an illicit union.  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 and 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 to get her way.  During the banquet, Herod’s daughter came and danced for Herod and his guests.  Herod was extremely very pleased with his daughter and wanted to thank her.  He told his daughter that she could ask him for anything and he would give it to her.  When his daughter consulted with her mother, Herodias told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist served on a platter.  Her daughter did so.

Herod was in a quandary.  He had told his daughter publicly that he would give her anything she desired, but he had great respect for John.  How could he say no to his daughter’s request?  Eventually, Herod gave in and did as his daughter had asked and had John the Baptist 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 stand up for what we believe, especially if our opinions or thoughts deviate from the norm, or do we keep silent?  If we are asked directly, do we fudge on our response?   Do we simply avoid the question?

I assume that most of us do not like to say or do the difficult thing.  If we consider ourselves followers of Jesus, however, it may require that we to speak the truth we believe, even when 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 someone.  Today may we ask John to share his courage, honesty and directness with us.

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