Gospel: Mk 6:17-29
For this is what had happened: Herod had ordered John to be arrested; and had had him bound and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod had married her; and John had told him, “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.” So Herodias held a grudge against John and wanted to kill him; but she could not, because Herod respected John. He knew John to be an upright and holy man, and kept him safe. And he liked listening to him; although he became very disturbed whenever he heard him. Herodias had her chance on Herod’s birthday, when he gave a dinner for all the senior government officials, military chiefs and the 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 so far as to say with many oaths, “I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.” She went out and said to 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.
I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish John the Baptist was imprisoned for denouncing Herod’s adulterous relationship with his sister-in-law Herodias. Incarceration was meant to silence him. But speak the truth he continued to do, with Herod secretly listening to him with fascination. Like Herod, we attempt to conceal the falsehoods about us, yet are mysteriously drawn by grace to the truth. Do we ultimately silence the truth about us, preferring to live a lie? Do we have the courage to allow the truth to reveal ourselves to us? Or, like John the Baptist, are we willing to speak the truth notwithstanding the dire consequences?
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