Today’s Gospel: Matthew 14:1-12
Today’s gospel is a gruesome tale; we are shocked by the image of a young, beautiful girl carrying the severed head of John the Baptist on a platter to her mother. It is a tale of vanity, the abuse of power, and the courage of a prophet.
We usually focus on wicked Herod in this story even though Herodias is the mastermind behind the entire scheme. She uses both her daughter and King Herod to kill John, simply because he had humiliated her by speaking the truth about her immoral relationship.
Although Herodias is a cruel manipulator, her daughter and King Herod are perhaps even more culpable because they are the people who are responsible for John’s murder. Herod did not want to execute John that night. He was persuaded by his wife because he was weak. He did not execute John earlier because he was afraid of the crowds who revered John and he later is afraid of the reaction of the guests if he does not fulfill his oath to Herodias’s daughter. Herod is a slave to the opinion of others. Rather than lose face, he commits an atrocity.
It would be easy to pass off Herod as an ancient despot living in a primitive era but how often do we modern, ordinary folk refuse to speak the truth, afraid we will suffer negative consequences, lose our jobs, or alienate friends?
It takes the presence of the Holy Spirit to transform weak people into witnesses who speak the truth in the face of hostility. The same Holy Spirit who transformed cowering disciples of Jesus into fearless witnesses on the day of Pentecost can transform us if we simply ask.
Can you recall the times you refused to speak the truth because you were afraid to go against the crowd?
Lord, fill us with the power of Your Holy Spirit so we will witness to the truth without fear.
Copyright 2019 Melanie Jean Juneau
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