Homily (Reflection) for the Memorial of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (29th August, 2020) on the Gospel and the Memorial
Ps 32:12-13.18-21. (R. cf. v. 12);
According to the Synoptic Gospels, Herod, who was tetrarch, or sub-king, of Galilee under the Roman Empire, had imprisoned John the Baptist because he reproved him for divorcing his wife (Phasaelis) and unlawfully taking Herodias, the wife of his brother Herod Philip I as wife (cf. Matt 14:3-4; Mk 6:17-18; Lk 9:7-9). On Herod's birthday, Herodias' daughter danced before Herod and his guests. Her dancing pleased Herod so much that in his drunkenness he promised to give her anything she desired, up to half of his kingdom. Through the instigation of her mother, she preferred the head of John the Baptist on a dish. Though Herod was deeply grieved but her request prevailed because of Herod’s oath and for his guests, cf. Mk 6: 26-28.
Topic: Terrible is a bad adviser.
Think about the offer Herod made to Herodias’ daughter; even half of his kingdom. It could have been probably an opportunity to be the youngest girl to rule such a vast kingdom, to spur young girls to use their talents positively, to raise the dignity of women when they counted not quite better than commodities, and so on. But because of her mother’s terrible advice, she turned her back on all these and many more to become a murderer; killed one who brought them the message of salvation, cf. Acts 13: 26.47; Eph 1:13.
The book of Proverbs extols advice, “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to advice” (Prov 12:15). Again, “By insolence the heedless make strife, but wisdom is with those who take advice” (Prov 13:10). The author also advices, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom for the future” (Prov 19:20). We also read elsewhere, “Better is a poor but wise youth than an old and foolish king, who will no longer take advice” (Eccl 4:13).
We see in today’s gospel the power of advice (words). It is very important to listen to advice but it is more important to consider them before putting them into use, cf. Jas 1:19. Just one foolish advice turned Herodias’ daughter into a terrible monster.
Advisers must be very careful of what they give in the name of advice. One piece of advice can turn an angel into a demon and vice versa. And while giving advice, we must always remember that there is great reward for good advisers, cf. Dan 12:3. On the other hand, there is terrible punishment for bad advisers, cf. Matt 18:6; Mk 9:42; Lk 17:2.
Bible Reading: Prov 18:2-8; Eccl 4:9-16.
Thought for today: Give and also take only good advice.
Let us pray: God, enlighten us to identify the good and the bad advice; and strengthen us to accept only the good ones – Amen.
Saint John the Baptist – Pray for us.
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