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.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your wondrous
shining glory, although this is hidden from my eyes. I
hope in the peace and everlasting joy of the world
to come, for this world is a valley of tears.
I love you, even though I am not always able
to discern the love in your intentions when you permit
me to suffer. You are my God and my all.
Petition: Lord, let me
never fear the consequences of speaking the truth.
1. Speaking Truth to Power: Although
Herod was a cruel tyrant, John the Baptist did not
hesitate to condemn his adulterous conduct and to denounce his
sin publicly. John was moved by the Holy Spirit to
give witness and teach the people that no one can
legitimately violate God’s commandments, not even a king. John did
not fear the consequences of his actions, because he knew
that if he were faithful, God would be at his
side and never let him down, even if he had
to suffer on account of the truth. We, too, need
to give courageous witness to our family, friends and to
the society at large. When we do, God will be
with us and we will have nothing to fear.
2. It Was Something That
You Said: Mark tells us that Herod, although he resented
what John said in accusing him of adultery, nonetheless “like[d]
to listen to him,” and he was “much perplexed.” In
his moral weakness, he persisted in his sin, yet the
cries of the prophet to repent did reach his conscience.
Herod was in confusion. Something was stirring in his conscience;
the Holy Spirit was moving inside him to bring him
to true repentance for his sin. God never abandons the
sinner, but gives him grace to turn back to him.
We should never lose hope for one who seems to
be lost and wandering in sin. We should always continue
to speak the truth with love and pray for a
full conversion. God can change the heart of even the
worst of sinners. He has forgiven us so much, and
he can forgive others as well.
3. A Conversion Cut Short: The Gospel tells how
Herod, in an imprudent promise to Herodias’ daughter, found himself
compromised and, for fear of losing face, had to order
the beheading of John the Baptist. Here his moral weakness
overcame the first stirrings of the grace of conversion. He
closed his heart to God’s action due to his lust
and vanity, and he committed the terrible crime of murder
of an innocent man. How sin can darken the conscience
and extinguish God’s grace in the heart of a person
given over only to satisfying their passions!
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I want to
be faithful to your teachings and to be frank with
those I love who need to hear your word. I
know that takes prudence, courage and steadfastness. Help me to
be true to you. Give me the grace of a
good conscience always to speak the truth with rectitude and
love for your law.
I will pray for the grace to witness to the
truth, “in season and out of season,” no matter what