“It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement — that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life.” ― Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
Gospel Text: (MK 6:17-29)
Herod was the one who had John the Baptist 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' 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.
With the reemergence of comic superheroes, a new phrase or question has developed, “What is your super power?” A question that helps us to think about the special gift or talent we possess that might assist others. The Church calls these charisms. They are the graces/gifts and talents given to us by God, intended to build up the Body of Christ.
Saint John the Baptist knew that his charism was to preach and proclaim the coming of the messiah. He held fast to his gift of preaching and teaching and put his life on the line to speak the truth when it came to confronting Herod Antipas about his marriage to his brother’s wife when his brother was still living. While Herod Antipas, a “king” with “power” could not stand up to the truth when his wife asked for the “head of John the Baptist”. He could not humble himself and say no to the request. It would have been “humbling” for him to do so. He might have seemed weak. What would people think of a king not keeping a promise?
When given power we need to know what to do with it!
We can use it for a greater good and it may cost us friends, job or opportunities. Or we may use it to make us “king of the hill”. Walking over others and ignoring the truth as we climb up to what we think is our goal. Not an easy choice when “human wisdom”/society tells us that it is okay to climb our way up and if someone next to me is falling down well, too bad for them. On the other hand, our faith says that we can all climb together helping each other to achieve our goals. In doing so we build up the “Body of Christ”
What are your gifts and talents? How are you using these to build up the “Body of Christ”?