Feb 3 2023 Reflection
Friday 3 February 2023
First Reading: Heb 13:1-8
The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Ps 27:1, 3, 5, 8b-9abc
Gospel Reading: Mk 6:14-29
Today’s Note: Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
King Herod heard about Jesus, 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.
Herodias 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.
His 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?”
Her mother 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.
Do you ever feel haunted by a past failure or a guilty conscience? The Lord Jesus came to set us free from the oppression of sin and guilt. King Herod, the most powerful and wealthy man in Judea, had everything he wanted, except a clear conscience and peace with God. Herod had respected and feared John the Baptist as a great prophet and servant of God. John, however did not fear to rebuke Herod for his adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife, Herodias. John ended up in prison because of Herodias’ hatred and jealousy. Herod, out of impulse and a desire to please his family and friends, had John beheaded. Now Herod’s conscience is pricked when he hears that some think that the Baptist has risen.
Guilt and pride cripples – repentance and pardon heals
When Herod heard the fame of Jesus he supposed that John the Baptist, whom he had beheaded, had returned from the dead. Unfortunately for Herod, he could not rid himself of sin by ridding himself of the man who confronted him with his sin. Herod was a weak man. He could take a strong stand on the wrong things when he knew the right. Such a stand, however, was a sign of weakness and cowardice. The Lord gives grace to the humble, to those who acknowledge their sins and who seek God’s mercy and pardon. His grace and pardon not only frees us from a guilty conscience, it enables us to pursue holiness in thought and action as well. God’s grace enables us to fight fear with faith and to overcome the temptation to compromise goodness and truth with wrongdoing and falsehood.
John Chrysostom describes John’s death as a crown:
In what way, then, was this just man harmed by this demise, this violent death, these chains, this imprisonment? Who are those he did not set back on their feet – provided they had a penitent disposition – because of what he spoke, because of what he suffered, because of what he still proclaims in our own day – the same message he preached while he was living. Therefore, do not say: “Why was John allowed to die?” For what occurred was not a death, but a crown, not an end, but the beginning of a greater life. Learn to think and live like a Christian. You will not only remain unharmed by these events, but will reap the greatest benefits.(ON THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD 22.10)
Do you rely on God’s grace and help to choose his way of holiness and to reject whatever would compromise your faith and loyalty to Jesus Christ?
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.