Reflection by Joe Wetterling
Today’s Gospel: Mark 6:17-29 – Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist
Herod initially feels “perplexed” by John the Baptist. He fears John’s holiness and what it means for him, yet he also likes listening to John. Holiness is challenging. It calls us to be holy as well and, like Herod, we might feel better by simply controlling our exposure to it — boxing it into one part of our life or one day of the week. It is perplexing: we hear the Word and, deep down, know we should follow it. Still, there is some part — some inner Herod — that wants to limit it, to keep it in check. Oh, what John could do if he was free to move and preach, if his word and example were inescapable.
Consider what happens next. Herod is tempted, seemingly by lust. He pursues that lust, making promises — extravagant promises — to keep it in his life. Those promises quickly move him toward ruin. Finally, in a single sentence we see both the appeal of his conscience and the silencing of it. Herod is “deeply distressed” by what he is doing, yet within the same breath he makes excuses for his sin. He has promises to keep! (No matter that they’re sinful promises.) He has guests to appease! (No matter that he’s disposing of the one “guest” he knows is holy.)
Our own sins may not all be driven by dancing girls, but how often we cover them with similar excuses. Our sins are not all lust; they may be pride or gluttony or something else. Like Herod, we hear God’s Word and like it. Like Herod, we are tempted by sin. Like Herod, we make excuses for it. Will you accept those excuses or heed the feeling of distress that comes from your conscience? Will you follow the Herods of the world or the Johns?
What part of your life are you keeping John out of? Where do you need to let the Word of God in?
Lord, I love Your Word. I desire holiness in my life — in every part, especially where I haven’t yet let You in.
Copyright 2019 Joe Wetterling
Joe Wetterling is a professional educator, homeschooling dad, and writer. He’s appeared at national conferences, speaking on education, technology, and philosophy. Joe writes for New Evangelizers, and he’s taught for Holy Apostles MOOCs and the Dominican Institute. He is a member of the Militia Immaculata and President of the Catholic Writers Guild. Learn more about him at JoeWetterling.com.
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