A command during the Jubilee Year states, “Do not deal unfairly, then; but stand in fear of your God. I, the LORD, am your God” (Lv 25:17). This kind of fear is not the fear that Herod the tetrarch has. He is afraid of the people for killing John the Baptist whom they regarded as a prophet. Herod had no fear of God in getting rid of John, but now he is disturbed by what he hears about Jesus. He thinks Jesus is John come back to life. Jesus reminds him of his crime against John who now haunts him. So he seeks to kill Jesus, too (Lk 13:31). But Jesus does not fear Herod whom he calls “that fox”; he continues to do his mission, just like John did before him. Jesus, in fact, tells his disciples, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna” (Mt 10:28).
GOSPEL • MATTHEW 14:1-12
Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”
Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.
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