Today’s Gospel Text: For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Hero'di-as, his brother Philip's wife; because he had married her. 18 For John said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." 19 And Hero'di-as had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Hero'di-as' daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it." 23 And he vowed to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom." 24 And she went out, and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" And she said, "The head of John the baptizer." 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb. Mark 6:17-29
Reflection: How far can people go into moral degradation, especially those in power?
Here in Herod we have one such example.
Though historically, a lot may be said about Herod and his immoral ways but the string of one immoral action of his leading to another is clearly evident here and something for each one of us to be cautious about.
- He in the first place takes his brother Philips wife as his own wife and thus faces the rebuke of John the Baptist.
- Then when Herodias desires that John be thrown into prison, he willing does what she has to command him. Thus proves a greater obedience to the vengeful woman.
- Then finally an opportunity arises and she demands the head of John the Baptist, Herod willingly submits to such an act. Thus one act leading him further into another and finally into the pit of decadence.
If he in the first place would have listened to John whom he knew was a righteous and holy man and whom he also held in great respect, then he would not have landed in such trouble.
In other words our respect for God and for a righteous and holy man may not necessarily overflow into listening to them and their wise advice for us.
This problem of disobedience to a righteous and holy man, despite their respect for them, can occur especially in people who wield power.
It is so because these who are in power, though may appear humble to the world and can pretend to be so to the world with their deception, end up persecuting the righteous and holy ones because power has gone to their head.
There is no one around them to even correct them because they surround themselves with ‘yes men’ who still hungrier than them for power, dance according to their every whims and fancies.
On the other hand when those outside correct them then they are filled with rage towards the holy ones of God.
Prayer: Lord, strengthen the righteous man who calls on your name and who seeks not his own glory but yours.
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