February 5, 2016 (Friday)

St. Agatha,virgin and martyr (M)

Sir 47:2-11 • Ps 18 • Mk 6:14-29



14King 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.” ...

17Herod 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. 18John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. 20Herod 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. 21She 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. 22His own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask of whatever you wish and I will grant it to you."  23He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” 24She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25The 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.” 26The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. 27So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. 28He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. 29When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.


John the Baptist’s courage to tell King Herod that it is not lawful for him to have his brother’s wife costs him his head. King Herod fears John the Baptist, “knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,” but what prevails is the king’s desire to give an impression of his power before Herodias’ daughter, the courtiers, military officers, and the leading men of Galilee present at his birthday party. King Herod’s norm for decision is earthly fame and glory, not the soft voice of God speaking to him through his conscience.

What is morally right is not always pleasant in worldly standards, but followers of the Lord Jesus have to give witness to it in their life. The basis of moral decision is nowadays usually very subjective: “what is good for me.” Our choices have to be made in the light of the word of God and the values of the Kingdom of God, which are often not the values of this world.

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