Friday 18 December 2015

Friday of 4th Week, even numbered year Vendredi de la 4e semaine, année paire

“King Herod had heard about Jesus, since by now his name was well known.”

Si 47,2-11 Ps.17 Mk.6,14-29

Friday of 4th Week, uneven numbered year

“King Herod had heard about Jesus, since by now his name was well known. Some were saying, ’John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.’ Others said ’He is Elijah’, others again ’He is a prophet, like the prophets we used to have.’ But when Herod heard this, he said ’It is John whose head I cut off; he has risen from the dead.’”

Hearing that Jesus was well known, Herod becomes worried. He had taken a hold of Herodiads, wife of his brother Philip. John the Baptist had reproached him for his behaviour, which had very much annoyed him . Deep down in Herod’s heart there remained a tiny flicker of a good conscious which allowed him to have a glimpse of what was right and wrong.

We are always scandalised about unfair situations and ones that are violent. It is because of his speech in troubled circumstances that king Herod had John the Baptist executed. The only thing which John the Baptist had committed was to bring the truth to light : ’ It is against the law to have your brother’s wife ’had he said to Herod. This word manifested the guilt and difficulty for Herod to be alone with himself in peace. Once again Herod is embarrassed as he hears about Jesus and all the good he does in the People.

“Now it was this same Herod who had sent to have John arrested, and had had him chained up in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philips wife whom he had married. For John had told Herod, ’It is against the law for yu to have your brothers wife.’ As for Herodias, she was furious with him and wanted to kill him, but she was not able to do so, because Herod was in awe of John knowing him to be a good and upright man, and gave him protection. When he had heard him speak, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he like to listen to him.”

Herod got caught up in his own trap; the slight glow of grace dormant in his heart which had him protect John the Baptist was extinguished by the passion he had for Herodias then for Salome, Herodias’s own daughter, who danced for him and his guests on his birthday.

Victim of his own blindness, the divine grace that was a weak glow in Herod’s heart, died out and this is when he made a speech vowing to do anything she

wanted. Herodias had just one thing in mind- to get rid of John the Baptist and this was the given opportunity through her daughter.

John the Baptist bears witness to the Coming of Christ : he is the way that announces the Word made flesh. The Good News he announces is now going to become a witness already announcing the martyrdom of Jesus. Indeed, he gives his life for Jesus.

Herod didn’t ask him to deny Christ, but to quieten the Truth that Christ is. So John the Baptist died for Christ.

Jesus said ’I am the Truth’. It is for Truth that John the Baptist was beheaded. He poured out his blood for Christ.

“The king was deeply distressed ; but, thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, he was reluctant to break his word to her. At once the king sent one of the bodyguards with orders to bring John’s head. The man went off and beheaded him in the prison ; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard about this, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.”

3 We can also imagine what a state of confusion Herod was in, with such a weak character, he had become the play-thing of two women, losing his free referee and his dignity as a man. would he not also at the same time lose his royal prestige finding himself a slave of his passions.

We can well understand how he must have been pursued by the sharp memory of John the Baptist and so he is afraid of Jesus, fearing it was John the Baptist come back to life.

It is by the act of baptising that John the Baptist announced the new baptism, and by his death, he announces once more Jesus’ death.

There are great obstacles for our growth in our Christian life : greed for power, excessive ambitions, excessive desires and attachments.

Taking the example of John the Baptist and of all the Saints, we ask for the grace to know how to overcome all adverse situations. Sobriety and self-control lead to the absence of all fear!

Being the first one to suffer his Passion, John the Baptist was indicating how Jesus too must suffer. In each one of us there is a predisposition to hear the Truth; we ask for the grace to listen!

We ask for the grace to dwell in the Living Word of God.