Saturday, July 30, 2016

Reflection: Matthew 14:1-12

Saturday of the 17th Week of Ordinary Time – Matthew 14:1-12

The primary character in today’s Gospel is Herod the tetrarch.  Herod had heard many stories about Jesus and he believed that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead.  Thus, he believed that Jesus was able to do many amazing deeds!

If you remember, it was Herod who had John arrested, put in prison and then put to death.  He did this because John had criticized Herod for taking his brother’s wife as his concubine.  John told Herod that this was unlawful and immoral.  However, Herod did not listen to John and he was determined to find a way to rid himself of John.

The opportunity came when Herod had a birthday and a grand celebration was planned.  During the celebration, Herodias’ daughter danced for Herod and his guests.  Herod was so enthralled with her performance that he promised to give her anything she asked for.  However, the girl did not know what to ask for so she went to her mother and consulted her.  Herodias instructed her daughter to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter!

When the girl told Herod that she desired the head of John the Baptist, Herod was dismayed and distressed.  However, since he had promised the girl that she could have whatever she wished, and he had said this in the presence of many guests, he felt bound to do as the girl requested. Thus, he gave the order to have John beheaded.  The servants brought John’s head to the girl on a platter.  In turn, the girl took John’s head to her mother.  Then John’s disciples buried John’s body and went to tell Jesus of John’s death.

Have you ever been boxed in and had to do something that you truly did not want to do, something that you clearly knew was not right?  I assume it was not anything nearly as serious as having someone killed to please another person!  I wonder what would have happened if Herod had refused to kill John despite the fact that he had promised that he would give Herodias anything she wished for?  Some of the people present may have called Herod a liar or a louse for not following through on his promise.  However, I hope the majority of people present would have silently applauded and supported his decision.

How often have you told your children not to follow the crowd?  Or how often have you schooled yourself not to do blindly what someone else expected you to do?   At times in our lives, we need to stand up for what we believe is right and just.  Typically, this is not easy as there usually there are people who strongly disagree with us.

However, if we do as the crowd wants, we may have to live with the guilt and shame for the rest of our lives.  I wonder if Herod regretted having John beheaded?  He knew he had not been strong enough to do what he believed was right.  Hopefully, he learned from this devastating experience.

Today may we be mindful of our actions, choices, and decisions. Our choices and decisions impact others, the community, our world, and our own lives.  Today and every day may we make thoughtful, loving, and righteous decisions.  May God grace us with wisdom and insight!

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