Saturday, 4 August 2012
4th August 2012 Matthew 14:1-12
John the Baptist Beheaded
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”. Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet. On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted and had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.
It's only a few weeks since this reading was scheduled for a Sunday. What a gruesome and unsavoury reading. What an awful ending for John. What were those women thinking?
We don't ask for anyone's physical head on a platter. But we are all complicit in asking for all people have to offer. Society demands all our attention, our time and our energy on being 'normal'; but those of us who don't follow that are open to be beheaded. We fail, we are open to judgement and ridicule and it can be hard.
As British Christians we find it almost impossible to stand up against the social norms; we allow ourselves to be offered on a platter. Why? What about saying that we can be different and within.