The story of the martyrdom of St. John is something we have heard over and over. However, I was struck today by the words of Herod at the beginning of the Gospel. “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.” These words lead me to believe that Herod was troubled by his decision to acquiesce to the request of his stepdaughter. Perhaps he was hoping that John had indeed been raised and was still walking this earth. At the same time, these words betray some fear on Herod’s part that John or Jesus was powerful enough to outshine his own power.
We also read a eulogy today from the Book of Sirach. We have come to the end of the story of King David. The eulogy offers us a snapshot of David’s life – his finest hours as well as his sins. He stands in our memory as one who repented humbly and publically and was forgiven by God.
The lives of both these kings point to Jesus in some way. Herod is threatened by Jesus’ existence, and afraid of who he might be. David, on the other hand – whose life was imperfect – prepared the royal lineage that paved the way for Jesus’ birth.
Our lives, too, will somehow point toward Jesus. Either by negation, like Herod, or with hope, like David. Unlike Herod, we know of the kingdom Jesus founded through his ministry or hope, healing and forgiveness. Therefore, our choice ought to be easy: To direct our lives toward the one who first directed his life toward us, and to believe in and live the Good News that Jesus brings us. Let us echo the words of the psalmist today, “Blessed be God my salvation.”
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator