Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Today, in Mercy, we memorialize the Passion of St. John the Baptist, his imprisonment and beheading at the hands of Herod, the whim of Herodias, and the weakness of Salome. This incident, with its accompanying history and ensuing repercussions, is a classic psychological study in good and evil.
The characters have repeated themselves in every generation:
Herod: the weak, corrupt, fearful man whose entire energy is spent satisfying himself at the cost of others
Herodias: the faithless, power-hungry schemer who will use any means to advance herself – the holder of grudges
Salome: the spineless sycophant who submits to her mother’s evil agenda is order to preserve her privilege
John: the enlightened protester who suffers the ultimate sacrifice for his beliefs
The passage, like all Bible stories, offers us an opportunity to measure ourselves, and our choices, against these ancestors.
Bits of each of them rise up in us, challenging us over the course of a lifetime. Our challenges may not have the sweeping dramatic overtones of this story, but they still have the power to color our entire character.
- Do I use my power for or against others?
- Do I try to hurt, or shun, others because of my harbored grudges and selfish agendas?
- How do I respond to the pressure to cooperate with, or ignore, evil?
- Could my commitment to Christ withstand even death – not only physical death, but the death of a relationship, job, dream, or cherished possession?
John the Baptist dies because he has confronted the sins of Herod, Herodias and Salome. But they cannot disentangle themselves from their knotted immorality. They conspire to take John’s life physically, ultimately eternally strangling their own.
We all have choices – big and small. For George Jones in the attached song, the choice was about drinking. But the song works for whatever choice might divert us from the path to wholeness in God. Maybe we can plug in our own challenges as we listen. Maybe we can be braver the Herod, Herodias and Salome. Maybe John will inspire us!
Music: Choices – George Jones