Friday, February 4, 2011

off with their heads!

At this month's First Friday Mass, the Gospel focused on the story of John the Baptist's fate.

Herodias had her chance on Herod's birthday, when he gave a dinner for all senior government officials, military chiefs, and leaders of Galilee. On that occasion, the daughter of Herodias came in and danced; and she delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you." And he went as far as to say with many oaths, "I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom." She went out to consult with her mother, "What shall I ask for?" The mother replied, "The head of John the Baptist." The girl hurried to the king and made her request: "I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish."
The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of the bodyguards with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother. When John's disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.
Mark 6: 21-29 
One of the more brutal and blunt Bible stories I've read. It reminds me of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland because her favourite expression is: "Off with his head!"

The priest posited, however, that it wasn't John who lost his head that day. The people who did, according to priest, were: Herod, Herodias, and her daughter (Salome). The all "lost their heads" when they had John the Baptist killed. Herod didn't want to lose face because he had given a promise in front of guests. Herodias was angry because John had condemned her for being the wife of her ex-husband's brother/ her uncle (Herod). Salome followed her mother blindly and didn't have her own mind. In short, these characters lost their heads to save their reputations and because they were concerned about how people saw them.

The priest ended the homily by asking, who are we like: John or the three other characters?