A Head on Platter
Sunday’s Gospel lesson tells the very sad story of the beheading of John the Baptist. (Click here to read it.) Herod Antipas (not the Herod that in power when Jesus was born) had taken his brother’s wife, Herodias, for his own, obviously an immoral act even by the standards of ancient Rome. John criticized Herod for this, which would often get your head taken off, but Herod sensed John’s righteousness and took no action against him.
But John’s criticism made Herodias angry and she sought an opportunity to punish him. When her daughter danced at Herod’s birthday party, Herod offered her a gift in thanksgiving and Herodias infamously told her to ask for John the Baptist’s head on a platter, which she was granted.
It is, indeed, a sad tale on many fronts. Herod’s evil in taking his brother’s wife, presumably just for lust, or perhaps to humiliate his brother. Herodias’ vengefulness, and even worse, drawing her daughter into her sin. And all this sin lead to the death of one of the great saints of God.
So, what do we learn from this? At least three things come to mind. First, the consequences of sin are real, and are not limited to the perpetrators of the sin. This should remind us that the burden of our sin is often born by others around us. Second, righteousness is no guarantee of shelter from the vicissitudes of life. Finally, the reality of a sad and painful end does not negate the good which the Lord accomplishes in and through us in life.
So give thanks for the privilege of doing good and serving the Lord, but don’t be surprised when everything doesn’t go your way! People far better than any of us had it far worse!
This column appeared in the July 15, 2018 issue of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
If you are reading this at a different time, you may click here for the current eNews.