Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Beheading of John the Baptist: worlds apart


I was struck by the contrast between Herod and John the Baptist, this morning. John the Herald of Christ in the desert, living simply according to God's will and the decadence of the court of Herod with all its excess.
Herod's court seems to be a symbol of the world without God. Herod has an attraction to John, he wants to hear him speak, even to hear himself condemned for his incestuous relationship with Herodias, his brothers wife.
The picture of the court is one of decadence, there is the implication of a paederastic attraction of Herod to Salome, he is besotted, he is "in love" and drunk hence the outrageous offer of half his kingdom, his sensuality leads him to be willing to dispose of half a kingdom or anything else, he is not in control of himself. Having set out on this course, he is unable to go back on it not because he has given his word but because of inner fear, he has made the promise in front of the court. The destructive malevolence of Salome's mother again reinforces this sense of decadence and moral turpitude. Here is a court based not order, and certainly not on the Law of God but on depravity, on arbitrary and personal whim, on sexual licence.
One is reminded of Loyola's meditation on the two cities, there is a choice placed before the hearers of this passage, the way of St John the Baptist or the way of Herod. One is the hard narrow way of self denial that leads Heaven and the other, the broad way of self indulgence that leads from personal immorality, sexual licence, self indulgence, fear of popular opinion, to the death of the innocent, and ultimately to personal destruction.
Herod's world will always seek to destroy the world of John, it will always reject those who follow the Law of God, even though it finds John's message beguilling, it is unable to break free to follow it.

3 comments:

White Stone Name Seeker said...

Very true

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

I would say we, in 2007, are very obviously living in the world of Herod.
And seem content to carry on doing so.

Benfan said...

Thanks for this Father. I have always read this event simply content to identify good guys and bad guys. To draw out the deeper meanings and illustrate the underlying Truth as you have done is very illuminating. Thank you.