The Lectionary readings for Sunday, July 15th include 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 and Mark 6:14-29.
|Wenzel Hollar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
Both of our readings involve a celebration. What is being celebrated in 2 Samuel? What is being celebrated in Mark 6? While preparing to write this blog entry, I searched for "tame" pictures of the martyrdom of John the Baptist, but, of course, there is no such thing as a "tame" representation of such a thing of horror. Who could imagine attending a birthday party only to witness the head of a holy man being brought out on a platter? Yet that is exactly what happens.
Please read this passage from the CEB (Common English Bible):
Herod the king heard about these things, because the name of Jesus had become well-known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and this is why miraculous powers are at work through him.” Others were saying, “He is Elijah.” Still others were saying, “He is a prophet like one of the ancient prophets.” But when Herod heard these rumors, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised to life.” He said this because Herod himself had arranged to have John arrested and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of Herod’s brother Philip. Herod had married her, but John told Herod, “It’s against the law for you to marry your brother’s wife!” So Herodias had it in for John. She wanted to kill him, but she couldn’t. This was because Herod respected John. He regarded him as a righteous and holy person, so he protected him. John’s words greatly confused Herod, yet he enjoyed listening to him. Finally, the time was right. It was on one of Herod’s birthdays, when he had prepared a feast for his high-ranking officials and military officers and Galilee’s leading residents. Herod’s daughter Herodias came in and danced, thrilling Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the young woman, “Ask me whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” Then he swore to her, “Whatever you ask I will give to you, even as much as half of my kingdom.” She left the banquet hall and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” “John the Baptist’s head,” Herodias replied.Hurrying back to the ruler, she made her request: “I want you to give me John the Baptist’s head on a plate, right this minute.” Although the king was upset, because of his solemn pledge and his guests, he didn’t want to refuse her. So he ordered a guard to bring John’s head. The guard went to the prison, cut off John’s head, brought his head on a plate, and gave it to the young woman, and she gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard what had happened, they came and took his dead body and laid it in a tomb.
- Often, what happens when prophetic faith confronts political power?
- What historic figures come to mind who have suffered greatly by speaking the truth even when the truth was dangerous?
- Daily life also presents personal and spiritual dilemmas for people to negotiate--things like saying "No" to a screaming toddler having a temper tantrum in aisle 6 of the grocery store or balancing work responsibilities in order to have adequate family time. What other sorts of daily choices do we face as we attempt to live faithful lives?