The evil Herod beheads St. John the Baptist for condemning his adulterous marriage. Every Catholic man  can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Fortitude so he can be strengthened by the Almighty Father to uphold the truth of the Sacrament of Matrimony and by growing in the Virtue of Justice of he can hold fast to the mindset and acts of a penitent. 

Liturgy

4th Week in Ordinary Time – Friday – Mk 6:14-29

Commentary

After murdering Christ’s forerunner, John the Baptist, and hearing about the many miracles of Jesus, Herod the Tetrarch is full of anxiety and wonders if John has perhaps reincarnated as Jesus. Herod, enslaved in evil and full of sin, is swayed by every anxiety, falls into false superstition (reincarnation) and is unable to receive the peace and joy Jesus offers.

John was a powerful prophet of miraculous birth who lived an austere and rugged life in the desert. John courageously confronted Herod and condemned Herod’s unlawful and obscenely sinful marriage to his brother’s wife, Herodias. Herod was intrigued by John, but locked John up to silence him and to limit John’s growing popularity. Herod, whose name ironically means, “hero-like”, was an antihero, a man with a vile and corrupt character: he had an adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife (who was also Herod’s niece); he, perhaps fueled by gluttonous consumption of wine, pridefully made oaths as he lusted over the overtly sexual seductive dancing of his grand-niece; cowardly, unwilling to break his lust oath, he beheads the innocent John the Baptist. Grotesquely, he had John the Baptist’s head brought on a platter to his birthday feast. 

The evil Herod, searching in vain for peace but mired in sin, was first intrigued by John the Baptist and now is obsessed with Jesus.  St. Augustine’s words resonate: “Our hearts are restless until we rest in You.” The pathetic and murderous Herod, unwilling to renounce evil, is destined to suffer in eternal agony.  

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Be awed by Jesus, Son of Man, who causes great anxiety in powerful and evil men because of His Divine Presence, Power and miraculous acts: Herod the Great is so fearful of the newborn Jesus that he “Slaughters the Innocents”; Herod the Tetrarch (one of Herod the Great’s sons) is deeply troubled by Jesus, and His forerunner, John the Baptist.

Be fortified by the Father to uphold the truth of matrimony

Realize: As the evil Herod denigrated marriage, many today rebel against the Sacrament of Matrimony by engaging in fornication (sexual relations outside of marriage), failing to marry in the Church, divorce, adultery, “re-marriage”, or the recent attempts to redefine marriage to legitimize acts which the Church has always confirmed to be mortal sin; among married Catholics, marriage is wounded by the grave sin of the use of Contraception. 

Believe: Reflect upon the Sacrament of Matrimony (CCC 1601-1666) and the call for Fecundity in Marriage (CCC 2366-2372, 2398-2399).

Pray: Almighty Father, help me build the Virtue of Fortitude so I remain continent until marriage, faithfully keep my own marriage vows, heroically defend God’s plan for marriage with truth and charity, and persevere when attacked with vile and violent persecution for speaking the truth about marriage by imitating the courage of St. John the Baptist.

Hold fast to the mindset and acts of the penitent

Realize: Like the evil Herod’s sins ate away at him, a man’s sins gnaw on him. God has given men a conscience, an inherent understanding of good and evil, which is embedded in a man’s soul and can be temporarily ignored but not permanently silenced; every man’s own conscience will be a witness in his Judgment. 

Believe: Reflect upon the Acts of the Penitent (CCC 1450-1460).

Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Justice, help me build the Virtue of Justice so I realize the just punishment I deserve for my sins, am motivated to repent with deep sorrow, and trust and frequently seek Your overflowing mercy which You generously pour out upon the penitent through the Sacrament of Penance.