Monday, July 9, 2012

Gospel for Sunday 15 July 2012

Mark 6:14-29
King Herod heard of the demons cast out and the many who were anointed and cured, for Jesus' name had become known. Some were saying,  John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him." But others said, "It is Elijah." And others said, "It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old." But when Herod heard of it, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised."

For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it." And he solemnly swore to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What should I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the baptizer." Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

Every time I read this story my mind leaps to tick off Herod’s offenses. How could he do it? Herod knew that John the Baptizer “was a righteous and holy man.” He knew there was something about John, it “perplexed him, yet he (Herod) liked to listen to him.” So how in the world could he do it? How could he let himself be manipulated by his wife and swayed by public opinion? Well, just about the time I am ready to bring down the gavel and declare Herod guilty of murder in the first degree a mirror drops out of heaven, and there I am.
 How could you do it Debra? How could you ignore the little voice inside that was niggling at you, telling you to pay attention, get out of that situation before it was too late. You know the one, the one that blew up in your face with lots of collateral damage. Or how could you ignore the inner sense that you ought to call Margaret or Mr. Yang or that person down the street ? You knew it still you did nothing until it was too late. Or how could you chuckle at that joke and go along with the crowd as they scoffed and laughed up their sleeves at the expense of others? It grieved you. In your heart of hearts you knew it was wrong, still you went along with the crowd. How many times have I been Herod?

Over and over again, as I stand in the gap between the way of the world and the Way of God’s kingdom, I choose the way of the lowest common denominator. I don’t want to lose face. It is really hard to follow the perplexing whispers of the niggling little voice inside when the shouts of the crowd seduce me to come along.  Truly I dare not be too quick to lay my verdict upon Herod or I may find my own head lying with his on the chopping block.