Grace to you!
We read from the Gospel of Mark, chapter sixteen, verses seventeen through twenty-nine, the sad account of the beheading of John the Baptist. Whenever I read that gory story, I feel sick to the stomach. It’s one of those stories in the bible that reveal the most ugly side of human cruelty.
Sometimes I wonder what is the psychology of those who are caught in the web of brutality and violent actions against their fellow human beings?
Watching some of the CSI and Blue Blood series, I seem to see a pattern about one of the reasons for murder. Often, the stories, which by the way try to mirror reality, build around deceit, shown in hiding or discovering of secret affairs, fraud or simply other forms of hate and greed.
Many times, these revolve around lustful passion—lust for money leading to fraud; lust for sex leading to infidelity, and lust for power leading to abuse of authority.
It’s important to remember that passion is a good thing. It’s like the center of enthusiasm and motivation. From a passionate speaker to a passionate activist for good cause, and a passionate believer, without passion, we would become as lifeless as a stone. Without passion, there will be no emotions.
However, these passions for good are like the wind which blows wherever, depending on how it’s directed. Passion has to be directed properly by good reason. If our passions aren’t in check, they become wild, like a wild beast; and the harm this could cause us, those around us, or even the greater society, is unimaginable.
For instance, a secret love affair is an example of lustful passion that comes with a moral and spiritual price, whether we know it now or not. One shouldn’t simply say, it’s my private life, because when the sense of virtue is disrupted, it won’t be long before the impact on our spiritual life is manifested. We also have to remember that Satan thrives in secrecy.
Secondly, a prolonged secret evil could metamorphose to a moral decay in such a way that the line between what is good and what is evil is blurred.
Consider how people who get accustomed to lies start of with simple, small lies to a culture of lie. Before long, the person would be lying without knowing it. It’s become pathological.
A pathological liar could fabricate stories and vouch for their authenticity. When lies become pathological, it is difficult to overcome. Only the grace of God, plus a clinical attention, could save such a person from this rot of integrity in speech.
Herod’s lapse in moral integrity came in stages—from secret infidelity, to power abuse, culminating in the murder of the prophet, John.
Having blurred the line between common sense and morality, Herod made unjust promises to the detriment of a holy man. The responsibility to preserve life was no longer as important to him as to save face before his guests. He forgot the limits of his power as king.
On this day we remember the beheading of John the Baptist, we pray that God will save us from abuse of power, lustful passion and murder, especially the murder of the most vulnerable in our society—the baby in the womb and the senior citizens through the so-called mercy killing. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[ August 29. Feast of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist: 1 Thes 2:1-8; Mark 6:17-29]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.