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Bishop Ralph Vendegna S.O.S.M.A.

Gospel/Homily

  • Liturgical day: Friday 4th in Ordinary Time

    Gospel text (Mk 6,14-29): King Herod also heard about Jesus because his name had become well-known. Some people said, «John the Baptist has been raised from the dead and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him». Others thought, «He is Eli­jah», and others, «He is a pro­phet like the pro­phets of times past». When Herod was told of this, he thought: «I had John beheaded, yet he has risen from the dead!». For this is what had happened. Herod had ordered John to be arrested and 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 she went so far as to say with many oaths, «I will give you anything you ask, even half my king­dom». She went out to consult 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.

    «King Herod also heard about Jesus because his name had become well-known»

    Fr. Ferran BLASI i Birbe
    (Barcelona, Spain)

    Today, in Mark's passage we are told about Jesus' reputation —known by his teachings and miracles. His fame was such some were saying He actually was John the Baptist, Jesus' relative and precursor, who had resurrected from the dead. This is what Herod, who had ordered John's death, also thought. But this Jesus was much more than the other men of God: much more than John; much more than any of the prophets who spoke in the name of the Almighty: He was the Son of God, become Man, Perfect God and Perfect Man. This Jesus —present amongst us—, as a man, can understand us and, as God can grant us all we need.

    John, the precursor, who had been sent by God before Jesus, with his martyrdom also preceded Jesus in His passion and death. It had also been an unfair death inflicted to a man who was a saint, by Herod, the tetrarch, possibly against his own will, because he respected him and liked to listen to him. Though, John was clear and firm with the king when John criticized his behavior deserving vituperation, because it was not licit to have married Herodias, his brother's sister.

    Herod had accepted Herodias' daughter request, induced by her mother, when, at a banquet —after a dance that had delighted the king— he had promised her with many oaths, in front of his guests, to give her what she would ask. «What shall I ask for?», she told her mother, who replied: «The head of John the Baptist» (Mk 6:24). And the petty kinglet had the Baptist beheaded. It was certainly an oath that did not oblige him in any way, as it was an evil thing, against any justice and any conscience.

    Experience teaches us, once more, that each virtue has to be always joined to all the others, and all together have to grow organically like the fingers of the hand. And, by the same token, when one incurs in some vice, soon others will follow.