5th Feb 2021 – 4th Week of Ordinary Time St Agatha, V.M. Memorial First Reading: Hebrew 13:1-8.
Gospel: Mk 6:14 -29. Today’s gospel narrates how Herod beheads St. John the Baptist upon the instigation of His illegitimate wife Herodias. The narrative is inside another narrative. The gospel begins by acknowledging that the works of Jesus had spread everywhere, and people were in confusion on the identity of Jesus. For Herod, the worst situation would be John the Baptist risen from the dead. John Had challenged the king’s immoral behaviour and he never broke his faithfulness as a prophet of God. He kept calling them for repentance. All this had the consequences; Herod at last killed him upon the instigation of Herodias, his illegitimate wife.
What was the purpose of this narrative?
Mark wants us to learn that, following Christ faithfully (discipleship) does not often lead to worldly success. The disciples had just come from a successful ministry. Mark aiming at discipleship, wanted us to know that, just like the old prophets (Elijah, Jeremiah, John etc), the disciples must
be ready to suffer even after doing good works. Actually, at the end of their ministry, the disciples suffered martyrdom.
How can we apply this narrative in our lives?
Unlike Herodias, we should strive to live a righteous life. We should also learn to accept our mistakes when corrected. We should remember; sin not accepted and confessed is deadly i.e. it can lead to another grave sin as in the case of Herodias.
Unlike Herod, we should not submit ourselves to wicked acts and ignore the consequences of our passivity. The evil does not pass after we have executed our wrongdoings. If one does not feel sorry and confess, the guilt and sorrow that follows can make one a prisoner of himself. Herod was haunted by his guilt and that is why he saw the fame of Jesus as the return of John from the dead, after he beheaded him.
Most of all, we should learn the lesson from John: that being faithful to God does not guarantee us a life free from suffering. Remember Christ told us, ‘Take up your cross and follow me’ Mark 8:34. We should know the consequences would follow us when our faith calls us to speak the truth and challenge the wickedness of those in power. John is not afraid to tell the truth.
He speaks honestly, boldly and courageously and is not afraid of the consequences of the right thing he has done. In fact, he is beheaded because he is not afraid to say the right thing that, Herod is living an immoral life. He simply tells Herod, ‘It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.’
Dear Christians, just as St Agatha could say, ‘to be a servant of Christ is to be truly free’ Let us not fear to tell the truth in all the situations, for the truth will set as free. We pray that, the Lord who is the stronghold of our life may give us strength to condemn the evils of today.