February 6, 2015
(St. Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs)
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. Mk 6:14-29
Every once in a while the readings coordinate with each other so perfectly we just know that God’s hand was in it. Today if we read this chapter from the Letter to the Hebrews – AFTER the Gospel passage on Herod and John the Baptist, we might have thought that it was written specifically about and to Herod!
For example, it said: “Do not neglect Hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.” Heb 13:1-8 You see, Herod WAS being hospitable, by having a birthday party with all his friends and dignitaries. But I think he missed the part about “entertaining angels.” Or at least, if they were there, he surely didn’t notice.
It also said to be “mindful of prisoners.” Herod was mindful of John the Baptist, even though he also had the power to let him go. It actually seemed as though Herod was holding John as his Spiritual Confidant, because he enjoyed his discussions with John.
It said, “Let marriage be honored.” Well in this one Herod failed miserably. It’s funny, we never heard that Philip was storming the fortress to get her back. Guess we can understand why!
Then it said, “Let your life be free from the love of money.” Another failure on Herod’s part. His love and admiration for his daughter really didn’t need to be acknowledged in material payment. And it was that very offering that ended up backfiring in Herod’s own face by his loss of John the Baptist.
You see, in the end, Herod’s main problem was that he didn’t know God as “his helper.” And because of that, he suffered greatly! Because of his own poor decisions, Herod ended up with a witch of an adulterous wife, who had a bad influence on his daughter as well. He lost his spiritual confidant in John the Baptist. And the whole party situation probably made him look pretty stupid to his distinguished guests; or at least pretty rash and cutthroat, which he apparently was anyway. To be sure, I wouldn’t want to hang around Herod’s party any longer, after they brought in a severed head – whether it was before or after dinner. But, I’d dare not leave either, if that’s the way he treated the ones he liked!
So what’s the message to us? Well, if we keep the Lord foremost in our thoughts; and if we seek Him whenever we are troubled or uncertain about what to do, we will find that He will always be our Light and our Salvation. And His answers may just come to us from the least expected sources. Because we never know, when we too, might be entertaining angels – in that person sitting right next to us!
And as a totally unrelated aside, had to share this one:
I know these people – I love these people!
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