The Gospel according to Mark (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 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.
Reflection: Jesus’ fame had become widespread among the people and many were talking about Him. Some thought He was John the Baptist raised from the dead, others thought He was Elijah the prophet, others simply thought He was a new prophet. They were all trying to figure out who this incredible man was who spoke with such wisdom and authority.
It’s interesting to note that Herod, who had beheaded John the Baptist, immediately concluded that Jesus must be John raised from the dead. He speaks this conviction not so much as only a hunch, but as if he knew it to be a fact. This is his definitive conclusion about Jesus. Why does Herod arrive at this mistaken conviction?
We don’t know for certain why Herod arrived at this conviction, but we can speculate. It appears that Herod felt very guilty about beheading John the Baptist and this guilt led him to this conclusion.
Oftentimes, when someone sins, as Herod did, and feels deep guilt without repenting of that sin, there arises various unhealthy effects such as a certain paranoid thinking process. Herod is most likely paranoid, and he most likely is so as a result of his sin and his refusal to repent of his sin.
We can see this same tendency within all of us. Unrepented sin can cause paranoid thinking, anger, self-justification and many other emotional and psychological issues. Sin, though spiritual in nature, has an effect upon our whole person which is what we have a glimpse of in the person of Herod. This is a good lesson for all of us.
Action: Take a look at yourself and your daily “ordinary” actions. Is there an area that needs a course correction? Maybe a Catholic “Make-Over” in order to be that better version of yourself. Think about a way to be more proactive in your faith and how to grow in service to others.