Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune. – (Carl Jung: 1875 - 1961: Swiss psychiatrist)
Gospel Text: (MK 6:14-29)
King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread,
and people were saying,
“John the Baptist has been raised from the dead;
that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”
Others were saying, “He is Elijah”;
still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.”
But when Herod learned of it, he said,
“It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”
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.
Herodias 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.
His 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?”
Her mother 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.
Very few of us will ever find ourselves leading a nation (thank God!). And yet, many of us often find ourselves in positions of leadership. Parish councils, RCIA, committee upon committee, these are all positions that require someone to step forward and demonstrate leadership. Unfortunately, being human, we may find ourselves making mistakes when we serve others and the community around us.
In writing about King David in the Old Testament, Sirach says, “The LORD forgave him his sins.” Earlier in the book of 2 Samuel, when David is confronted with his sin, he publicly repents. He doesn’t try to hide it or even wait to see if punishment is coming. Once he recognizes his transgression, he admits it to all.
Herod in today’s gospel reading deals with a similar situation in a very different manner. When he sees his error (promising more than he should), he defends his pride by continuing down the path he is on, rather than admit his mistake in front of those who, at least to his face, sing his praises.
One of the most powerful traits in a leader is humility. Owning our humanity and being willing to be seen as less than perfect is not often found in those seeking public office, whether at a local or national level. My prayer for myself today is that I have the strength to admit my shortcoming, both to God and those around me, so that I can move forward to serve them better.