Introit: God is in his holy place, God who unites those who dwell in his house.
He himself is the strength of his people.
Brothers and sisters,
Our first reading urges us simply: “Let brotherly love continue.”
Which is what St. Benedict calls us to: “Let brotherly love continue.”
As we begin this Mass, let us be sorry for our lack of brotherly love, by which we have sinned against God and against each other. I confess, etc…
The Gospel Mark 6:14-29
King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread,
and people were saying,
“John the Baptist has been raised from the dead;
That is why mighty powers are at work in him.”
Others were saying, “He is Elijah”;
still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.”
But when Herod learned of it, he said,
“It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”
Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers,
and the leading men of Galilee.
His own daughter came in and performed a dance
that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
“Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
Her mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request,
“I want you to give me at once on a platter
the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner
with orders to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter
and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
After the Gospel:
Herod, it seems, never intended to go that far.
He was actually distressed by her request,
but with all those witnesses, he was trapped, and one thing led to another.
Long after the deed was done, however, Herod suffered from it.
According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, Herod saw ghosts at night,
had to sit up in bed, afraid to go to sleep.
Brothers and sisters, isn’t that the story of sin?
Doesn’t the old gospel song have it right:
“Sin will take you farther than you ever intended to go,
it will keep you longer than you ever intended to stay,
it will cost you more than you ever expected to pay.”
Herod learned the hard way.
Unfortunately, so do we.