"The highest courage is to dare
to be yourself in the face of adversity. Choosing right over wrong, ethics over
convenience, and truth over popularity…these are the choices that measure your
life. Travel the path of integrity without looking back, for there is never a
wrong time to do the right thing." - Author unknown
text: Mk 6:17-29)
was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison
wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."
harbored a grudge against him
wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
he liked to listen to him.
had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
a banquet for his courtiers,
military officers, and the leading men of Galilee.
own daughter came in
performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests.
king said to the girl,
of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you."
even swore many things to her,
will grant you whatever you ask of me,
to half of my kingdom."
went out and said to her mother,
replied, "The head of John the Baptist."
girl hurried back to the king's presence and made her request,
want you to give me at once
a platter the head of John the Baptist."
king was deeply distressed,
because of his oaths and the guests
did not wish to break his word to her.
he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders
went off and beheaded him in the prison.
brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl.
girl in turn gave it to her mother.
his disciples heard about it,
came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
Today’s Gospel features these two
opposites. John the Baptist, a man of incredible courage; Herod and his wife,
Herodias, people of unspeakable cowardice.
When Herod had John arrested and
brought to prison, we don’t know if he physically resisted, but we do know he spoke
up. “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife,” he said to Herod.
He positively stood for the truth of God’s law, holding the king accountable
for his prior divorce and remarriage. Herod cowered in the face of that truth,
yet was intrigued by it, deciding to lock John up and talk to him on his own
terms so as not to be reminded of the truth day after day. Perhaps we’ve all
attempted to lock away the truth of God’s law at some point in our own lives,
preferring not to deal with it or to listen only our own terms rather than
confront our need to change.
Herod’s wife, Herodias, reacted
differently toward John, but also as many of us do when people call us out, she
“harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.”
you ever felt that way when someone spoke up against you?
When someone or something called your
life choices, your words, or your ideologies into question, implying they
weren’t always in line with God’s truth? I know I have. I just want to spit back
in their face that they’re wrong; I don’t need to change; they’re the
close-minded one. But maybe…just maybe…they’re not.
Look at John for a second. He seems a
bit of a passive character in this narrative. But it’s his words, his boldness
for God’s law of truth that fuels the story. He clearly knows what is right,
and even in the face of death, he will not step down. We are called to a
courage like this. A courage to step out of our comfort zones and confront the
lies we buy into each day in our own lives. A courage to hold those around us
accountable to the truth of God’s love and precepts. A courage that doesn’t
we honor the martyrdom of John the Baptist. May we live courageously like him,
speaking and standing for the truth in all we do.