Aug 29 2020 Reflection
Saturday 29 August 2020
First Reading: 1 COR 1:26-31
Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
PS 33:12-13, 18-19, 20-21
Gospel Reading: MK 6:17-29
Today’s Note: Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist
Herod was the one who had John the Baptist 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’ 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.
[Herod] liked to listen to him. (Mark 6:20)
Try to imagine Herod listening to John the Baptist. John pulled no punches about Herod’s illicit marriage, and Herod could have had John killed immediately. But there was something about John that attracted him—and also scared him. He just couldn’t bring himself to execute the man.
What was it that moved Herod so much? Surely it was the Holy Spirit working through John. The Spirit used John’s passion for holiness and his moral courage to speak to the hunger for truth and goodness that stirred deep in Herod’s soul. Through John, he showed Herod that it wasn’t too late to change. So Herod kept putting off the execution thinking he might find the courage to repent and truly change.
You might not put yourself in the same category as John the Baptist, but in one sense you are like him. The Holy Spirit lives in you and is calling you to reach people with God’s love and mercy. So consider: how might the Holy Spirit make you attractive to the people around you? Maybe, like John, you have a passion for holiness that grabs their attention. Or maybe your sense of peace helps other people stay calm in a crisis. Or perhaps your joy overflows and lifts the spirits of your loved ones.
Do you want to cultivate these spiritual gifts? Then nurture your relationship with the Lord. The more you spend time with him, the more you will experience his love and mercy in your own life. And that will make you more attractive. There will be something different about you, something that sets you apart and touches the people around you.
A word of warning: don’t get discouraged if you have a hard time seeing the impact you are making on people. Remember, Herod never found the courage to respond to John’s words. But the fact that it took his wife’s scheming to ensnare him shows that Herod was beginning to change. Similarly, you can trust that the Holy Spirit will use the example of your faith to have an impact on the world around you.
“Lord, fill me with your Spirit so that I may touch others with your love.”