In today's Gospel, Mark 6: 14-29, the evangelist shares with us the tragic story of King Herod, his daughter and his wife Herodias, all involved in the murder of John the Baptist. Mark tells us that "Herod 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. John had said to Herod, 'It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.'" Herodias held a grudge against John the Baptist and wanted him killed. She got her chance when Herod, on his birthday, held a banquet, to which he invited "his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. At this party his daughter danced in his honor. Herod was so delighted in her dance that he offered her anything she wanted, including half his kingdom. She asked her mother what she should request and her mother said: "The head of John the Baptist." Not wanting to go back on his promise of giving her anything she wanted, he ordered John the Baptist murdered in prison and the head brought to his wife on a platter, just as she had requested!
"Gross," you and I say. "How could he/she/they do such a thing? How horrible. What depravity! What immorality! What kind of persons were they?" And all we have to do each day is turn on the news and some where, some place, at some time, this same scenario is played out before our very eyes! Some times the issue is romantic involvement with another person, that is coveting another man's wife or woman's husband. At other times, its greed for money or coveting material possessions that belong to another person! Or some other incomprehensible reason also conjured up by distorted thinking and out-of-control passions.
I pray: Lord, save me from myself; save us from ourselves! How vulnerable we can be to the very emotions that blinded and deafened Herod, Herodias and their daughter! We are not immune to harboring anger. We can become consumed by our grudges and resentments. And these can lead us to hurting others, maybe not to the extent of the persons in today's Scripture reading, but, nonetheless, to doing that which we will deeply regret.
What kind of thoughts am I, are you entertaining, and are they such from which we need to be saved! Let us call upon Jesus to save us from ourselves. I did that today, as I was focusing on negative issues: a relationship problem, the state of our country and government, my fatigue and my lack of energy, and some health issues. I needed to change course. So I asked Jesus to save me from myself! By days end God helped me turn my focus back to Him!