Daily Reflection – 2/8/19
King Herod heard about it, 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. 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’s 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.( Mark 6:14-29)
This is a gruesome story but, as always, it is instructional. Herod is caught in a web of complex personal and social relationships. He wants to please his spouse but if he pleases his spouse, he will kill a righteous and holy man. He wants to seem like a generous ruler to Galilean society but still seem powerful to the rest of his kingdom. Basically. he is trying to please many different groups of people and still find a way to keep his own integrity.
This is a position many of us can relate to. How many of us have to make decisions every day that affect different people? And how often do we feel as if no one is happy with a decision? How often do we make decisions that only satisfy our ego ?
This is why the line “But then an opportunity came” helps me find the grace in this passage. It also presents an “opportunity” for Herod to choose grace and stand up against a decision he knows is wrong. In this case he chose to follow a baser motivation.
Every decision we make is an opportunity for grace. We can choose to let grace in or to reject it.. Have you ever made a decision where you felt like you caved to the social norm and didn’t follow what you knew to be right?
This is the gift of this Gospel reading! It calls on us to think about our decisions. If we frame every decision we make as a chance to let grace into our lives, then we might make different decisions. It is easy to make choices to please those around us, but as we learn from Herod’s choice, this is not always the right thing to do. Herod had an opportunity for grace, but he decided against it. So let’s learn from Herod’s mistake. Before we make a decision, let’s ask if we are making our decision to protect ourselves or to build up the kingdom of God? Because personally I would rather build up the kingdom even if it means missing out on things/events that, on the surface, might be more tempting.
Prayer of The Day
Lord God, as I face this day, let me remember the reason why I live it. I live it for you. I live it for your glory. I live it to bring your light to others. Allow those thoughts to guide my words and my actions today.
Today the faces have changed but the need for truth has not gone away. As we engage in our own tentative steps towards the truth it may be that sooner or later, we too have to make our own choices whether or not to act. Have we ever encountered immorality which is a direct contradiction of what you believe your faith encourages you to stand for? Yet, we choose not to comment? Have you listened while a good person was maligned but you did not object? Have you ever sacrificed core beliefs because, now, it was unpopular to rise against them? The choice is always yours.