The Gospel according to Mark (6:17-29)
Herod was the one who had John the Baptist 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. She 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. Herodias’ 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?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once 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: Have you ever “made a decision” and the second you did then you realized it was a bad decision? It could had been something like cutting your finger while preparing food or stubbing your toe on something because you decided to walk in the dark or telling someone something you instantly regretted? In today’s scripture, Herod made a decision regarding John the Baptist life. He made a decision and then he realized that he “put his foot in his mouth”. He probably knew that making offer to his daughter was a bad one when she asked for John’s head on a platter. But he had already made the commitment and chose to go through with it rather than recanting his promise.
If we take this thought process a little deeper and think about how our decisions may have affected our life and others because we couldn’t use our cut finger, or couldn’t walk due to the aching toe, or trying to mend your relationship with your kid. In this case, Herod’s decision affected not only the life of John but all the people that were his friends and family which included Jesus. Sometimes it’s worth admitting that you made the wrong decision or in this case, Herod saying no to his daughter for the sake of mankind or humanity. Jesus knows that we are not perfect therefore we need to do what is right regardless of the peer pressure that surrounds us.
Fr. Richard Rohr says, “Whether we currently identify as a victim or a victor, we are all wounded. If we could see our wounds as the way through, as Jesus did, then they would become sacred wounds, and not something to deny, disguise, or export to others. I’ve frequently said that if we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it, usually to those closest to us. The given is that we will have pain! Spirituality is about transforming both history and individuals so that we don’t just keep handing on this pain to the next generation, consciously or unconsciously.”
At times we carry a heavy cross and beg our Lord to take it from us. Instead, God tells us that His grace is sufficient and that He wishes to use our sufferings as a testimony of our fidelity. So, the Father’s response to Jesus, His response to John and His response to us is a call to enter into the mystery of our sufferings in this life with faith, hope, confidence, and fidelity. Never let the decisions of life deter you from your fidelity toward the will of God.
Action of the Day: Think about those bad decisions and those who were affected by it. Think about how long you’ve been carrying that burden and ask God to take away that heavy cross, ask Him for forgiveness and peace.