Today’s Gospel: Mark 6, 17-29 – Passion of St. John the Baptist
The scene in today’s Gospel is a familiar one even years later. A person of authority is put in a compromising situation and caves under the pressures of his family and constituents. Herod had grown to enjoy his conversations with John. He “was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him” (vs. 20). One can imagine Herod sneaking down to the dungeon to visit with John in the prison. Perhaps it was his curiosity at first but maybe John was starting to make a little sense – it’s even possible the seeds of conversion were developing in Herod’s heart.
Herodias’s heart, conversely, had become bitter against John because of his condemnation of her marriage to Herod. It’s possible she knew, deep down, John’s judgement was justified. Yet, her resentment festered and corroded her heart, provoking her to use another person, her own daughter, to find revenge.
The girl, possibly a young and innocent adolescent at the cusp of womanhood, eager to please her mother and gain the favor of her new step-father and King, also found herself in a decisive moment. One can only imagine the thoughts that went through her head at her mother’s request for the head of John the Baptist.
Each character in this Gospel reading had a choice. Herod had to choose between the silent tugging of his conscience or the political pressures that overwhelmed him. Herodias made a decision of revenge over mercy and repentance. The girl, perhaps the most innocent of the three, still chose favor, recognition and blind obedience over an instinctual knowledge of good and evil. They each chose what was best for themselves.
John offers an alternate choice: Follow Christ, humbly and courageously, no matter the consequence to our own personal comfort and security.
Which of the three main characters of today’s Gospel do you relate with? How can you, like John, choose to follow Christ today even if it costs you hardship or suffering?
Jesus, I choose to live my life for you today. Free my heart of any grudges or selfish desires and grant me courage, wisdom, and confidence to choose your will over my own. Amen.
Copyright 2016 Erika Marie Higgins
Erika Marie is a simple Catholic, wife, and Mama. She finds her joy and strength in Christ and loves sharing his Gospel message of truth, love and mercy. Enjoy more reflections by Erika at her personal Simplemama blog, follow her @_ErikaMarie_ and her Simplemama by Erika Marie Facebook page.