Herod Antipas rules Israel as a “puppet king” for the Roman Empire. He manages his little world the way he wants. He obtains a quickie divorce from his wife, a foreign princess, so he can marry Herodias who, alas, is married to his brother Philip. John the Baptist speaks against the illicit relationship between Herodias and the king. The prophet is seen to be a stumbling block to Herodias’ ambition so she wants to get rid of him.
King Herod has a different opinion of John the Baptist. He is attracted to John’s words. Herod becomes a frequent visitor at John’s prison because he enjoys listening to the prophet while at the same time being perplexed.
The king is obviously disturbed by his conscience, that voice within himself pointing out right from wrong. He cannot blame the girl who has seduced him with a dance. Nor can Herod put the blame on Herodias who asks for the head of John the Baptist. Initially regretting his reckless offer, Herod bows to public opinion instead of listening to his conscience.
Do Church and State leaders truly serve God’s people or their self-interests?
Gospel • MARK 6:17-29
Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. 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. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias’s own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord 2020,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.