Scripture: Lectionary # 327: Sirach 47:2-11. Psalm 18: 126.96.36.199. Mark 6: 14-29.
Summaries are very helpful for us and Scripture does not disappoint us for often we have summaries in the writings. Today is an example as Sirach in a rapid review sketches the life of David for us and eulogizes the great King in a most positive manner. The sins and crimes of the past are forgotten and we focus on the great marvels that David accomplished for his people Israel. He both unifed the Israelites, made Jerusalem their capital, and defended successfully his country from the surrounding enemies. These deeds and the great compassion and devotion of David in the songs and psalms are within the spirit of Sirach’s encomium. David lives on in our memories in a blessed and positive way.
We do well to learn from the summary that God is always there to forgive us and to help us go on to the next page of our life without turning back to chapters that are finished never to return. The power of God’s covenant of loving-kindness lives in our hearts when we return to the Lord.
Our Psalm summarizes David: “You (Adonai, the Lord), gave great victories to your King and showed kindness toward your anointed; to David and his posterity forever!” (Psalm 18:51).
The Gospel reading from Mark gives us the gruesome details of the beheading of John the Baptist. Herod Antipas is haunted by the rumors that someone seems to be the Baptist and is again preaching repentance. Is it Elijah, is it a Prophet, is it this new person named Jesus? Herod then confirms he has murdered the Baptist from what we glean from Mark’s narrative. Josephus, the Jewish historian, will also add to the description of who John is. He actually has more space dedicated to John the Baptist than to Jesus; moreover, the text about Jesus is riddled with Christian interpolations.
Jesus is doing great things among the people and thus will interest Herod. He is a curious person and would like to see Jesus do something extraordinary before him. Jesus is very much alive in the territory of Herod Antipas performing miracles and encouraging the crowds that God’ kingdom is among them. John the Baptist is now a martyr and witness to God’s power through his courageous behavior and his humility that paved the way for Jesus. This flashback of Mark is the last time that John the Baptist will be remembered in Mark. Amen.