Heb 13:1-8; Ps 27:1,3,5,8,9; Mk 6:14-29
Perhaps we should fear someone who can decapitate us. Perhaps we should be afraid of those who are envious of our virtue. Perhaps we have much to fear if we do not know that the LORD is our light and our salvation. With Saint John the Baptist and all the witnesses to the truth, our hearts are not afraid. Even though an army encamp against us; we have not fear. Even though war be waged upon us; still, we have no fear. The LORD hides us on the day of trouble; on that day the LORD conceals us in the shelter of his tent. Indeed, we are set high upon a rock, and there we are safe from any and all who pursue us. It is the presence of the LORD that we seek. We plead that he never hide His Face from us; we ask that He never repel his servants in anger. Indeed, the LORD is our helper, and He never casts us off. It is with this kind of confidence and light that we can take the risk of loving. It is with this kind of a savior that we can confront evil and speak out for the truth. The Lord Jesus is our true light and our gracious savior so we confident and unafraid.
The love of brothers and sisters in community enables others to see the Light and come to know the Savior. Indeed, our love demands that we do not neglect hospitality even to strangers, some of them may be angelic messengers! Prisoners must be treated as human beings; we must share in their imprisonment. Our unity as the Body of Christ demands this kind of compassion. We have no excuse for promiscuity. The marriage bed must be kept undefiled. Even when we are economically successful, we must be free from the love of money. Without this kind of detachment, our lives are full of insecurity and greed. The Apostle commands us to be content with what we have; the Lord Jesus will never abandon or forsake us. We will be confident in his loving care and gracious protection. We constantly recall those who have gone on before us so that we can imitate their way of life and their faith. All who are disciples will grow in faith and come to know that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
What kind of a sick and twisted girl would ask for someone’s head on a platter? Such horror is not limited to the past; even in our own day we hear the news of terrorist executions. Decapitation is still a favorite. Herodias, the girl’s mother, harbored a grudge against Saint John and wanted to kill him, but her desire went unfulfilled until the king made foolish oaths. Even though Herod feared Saint John because he was so upright and holy, the king did not understand the preaching of the Prophet. Herod liked to listen to Saint John, but the more he listened the more perplexed he became. He missed the beauty of the truth that the Baptist preached, but the beauty of the dance captivated the heart of the king. He wanted to honor such a beautiful display to reveal his good taste and royal dignity. However, in his foolishness, the king made a promise to do anything, whatever the girl asked. At this moment Herodias takes full advantage of her lover’s foolishness. Now, she had the power to fulfill her desire to silence the Prophet’s public criticism of her adultery. In her foolishness, she thought that having Saint John beheaded would put an end to his painful wisdom. It is the blood of the Baptist that continues to speak the truth from age to age. The witness of Saint John to the justice of God, a justice that even absolute and tyrannical rulers cannot ignore, points to the definitive truth of God’s justice in the Incarnate Word nailed to the cross out of love. The love of Christ, the Crucified, is prefigured in the self-sacrifice of Saint John. As we hear the account of the martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist, we catch a glimpse of the wisdom and strength from on high, in the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, the King of Martyrs, and the LORD of Life.