Grace to you!
Drawing from the story of the beheading of John the Baptist (Mk 6:17-29), I reflect on the need to invest our passions in doing good.
I wonder what was the fundamental emotion that would propel Herod, called the Tetrarch, to behead John the Baptist? I also wonder what could make a woman to ask for the head of an innocent man on a plate, knowing that women are generally more affectionate and tenderhearted.
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.
Two of these revolve around passion. I do not mean the passion which we refer to when we talk of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, or the passion of Saint John the Baptist. These refer to the suffering and death of these two. Passion used in these contexts has to do with painful suffering. Rather, I mean lustful passion. Lust for money leading to fraud, lust for sex leading to infidelity and lust for power leading to abuse of force.
Every person has passions, from a passionate speaker to a passionate activist and a passionate believer. Without passion, we would be as lifeless as a stone, without emotions. However, these passions for good are like the wind just as the Spirit that blows where it wills. It has to be directed properly.
A misdirection of our passion could lead to a snowballing effect, often dangerous to our peace and wellbeing. Secret love affair lead to some problems whether we know it now or not, just like shady deals come with risky future security.
There is something about secret deals or love affairs that is very dangerous. Satan who thrives in secrecy would want the victims to do anything to keep the secret.
Secondary, a prolonged secret evil could metamorphose to a moral delay 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 devolve to that moral depravity. It starts with simple, small lies to a culture of lie. Before long, the person would be lying without knowing it. A psychological name for it is pathology.
A pathological liar could fabricate stories and vouched 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 root of lack of integrity in words.
Herod’s lapse in moral integrity came in stages; from infidelity, to power abuse, culminating in the murder of the prophet John.
Why? Because he had blurred the lines of the limits between good and evil, and would make immoral, unreal and unjust promises. The responsibility to preserve life was no longer as important to him as the responsibility to appear to his guests as the almighty—whose word is final.
May God save us from absolute claim to power. May we invest our passions in doing good not evil. Amen. Saint John the Baptist, pray for us. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.