One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

February 05, 2010

For Friday of the Fourth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Mark 6:14-29

The Gospel says Herod knew John to be just and holy, even in speaking openly against Herod’s own sins.
So Herod had an emotional traffic jam, both FEARING John and LIKING his words.
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.
He FEARED him, but LIKED to listen to him.
John [Mt. 3:7; Lk. 3:] told ALL who came to him for the baptism of repentance: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”
If those were John’s words for the REPENTANT, then what kind of hellfire must have come from his mouth for Herod who chose to stay in his sin?
However strong it may have been, Herod LIKED to hear it.
After he beheaded John, then learned of the “mighty powers at work” in the Lord Jesus, Herod reckoned: “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”
So Herod would have thought and felt the same things for Christ as for John: that Christ was a just and holy man, whom Herod both feared and liked.
So John prepared the way even for Herod to consider Christ.
John baptized with water, but said another— whom we know to be the Lord Jesus— would come to baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire, burning the chaff with unquenchable fire [Mt. 3:11,12; Lk. 3:16,17].
Christ says the Holy Spirit comes to convince the world concerning sin, justice, and judgment [Jn. 16:8].
That Spirit filled John before his birth, and filled John’s voice in manhood.
To be convinced about sin, justice, and judgment is something both to fear and to like— even as Herod feared and liked it.
It is something we may fear, because it calls for painfully hard work.
It is also something to like, because such work is the narrow gate to everlasting joy and blessing in the kingdom of heaven on earth.
The Gospel does not show Herod choosing to repent of sin and change his life— even though he knew that “mighty powers” were “at work” in Christ.
Si revera Deum quaerit [St. Benedict 58:7]— if a man truly seeks God, then he lets the Lord Jesus baptize him with the Holy Spirit and fire, convince him of sin and burn it off like chaff, so that the mighty powers at work in Christ will raise him up in the kingdom of God.
For that to happen for us, we must make the choice Herod never made.
To know of the Lord Jesus and to have feelings about him only makes us the same as Herod.
To end up different, we must take action in the choice of conversatio, ongoing conversion [St. Benedict 58:17], every moment of our lives.

That God Be Glorified in All