Daily Reflection – 2/7/2020
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)
Today’s Gospel presents the details surrounding the beheading of John The Baptist. Some would say “even more than necessary.” But is it? Too often, the stories of countless men and women who gave their life for their faith become just that . . . stories. They are interesting. They may even inspire. But they seem to exist outside of our immediate spheres.
What occurred in all of these reports is that men and women gave their lives in the battle for the Kingdom of God. What we prefer to forget is that the battle is still raging and it is one in which we are all involved! Some will remain conscious of it and speak out and act out their belief in Jesus Christ. Others will come up with one excuse or another as to why it is not their responsibility. Others will turn a deaf ear. But the work of God is like a stream, and when someone puts a rock in the stream, the water flows around the rock. This is what the first century disciples of Jesus had to discover, and this is the discovery that we continue to make today – that despite the setbacks, the hardships, and despite those we lose along the way, the work of God continues, joy comes in the morning, or, in the words of Martin Luther, “The City of God remaineth”.
Many have gone before us in this battle and others will follow, and no one of us is invulnerable. All of us, sooner or later, will fall, but the work of God continues. I will fall, but the work of God will continue. You will fall at some point but the work of God will continue!
We are called to keep the lights bright in the City of God. We are called to be one of those lights. Not to keep the light burning behind a closed door. Not to keep the light hidden in the secrecy of our minds and prayers. But to stand boldly and declare our belief in Jesus Christ. To help the marginalized, to loudly decry wickedness, to don the armor of a soldier for Christ. That is our obligation, that is our call.
If we truly consider ourselves followers of Jesus, then we do need to speak the truth we believe even if it is not the popular opinion. Today may we ask Jesus for the courage to speak and act on our beliefs—even if it may upset the other person. Today may we ask John the Baptist to share his courage, honesty and directness with us!
Prayer of The Day
Heavenly Father, form in me the likeness of your Son that I may imitate him in word and deed. Help me to live the Gospel faithfully and give me the strength and courage I need to not shrink back in the face of adversity and temptation.
John put his life on the line for what he believed. Do we speak what we believe, especially if our opinion or thoughts deviates from the norm? Or do we simply keep silent? Or if directly asked, do we equivocate on our response? Or do we simply avoid the question?