“Martyrdom does not end something, it is only a beginning.” ~ Indira Gandhi
Today, we celebrate the memorial of the beheading of John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a problem. He was a real problem for King Herod. The king, as you may remember, had married his brother’s wife. John kept telling him that doing so was wrong, that the king had sinned against God. For some reason, John’s words struck the king’s heart, probably to the point where the king was considering repenting.
Herodias knew that she had to do something to rid herself of John as his influence on her husband was too strong. She had her chance when her daughter did a dance for Herod and his guests at a public function. The dance was most likely highly erotic and Herod, filled with lust, wanted to make sure that he could please the daughter. He promised her that she could have anything she wanted. He even swore to it, promising her up to half of his kingdom. Imagine his shock when, prompted by her mother, she requested the head of John the Baptist.
The king’s lust had gotten him into this quandary and his pride was keeping him there. “What will they think? What will they say?” These thoughts were more than likely going through his head. It was not good for a king to go back on his words, especially words made in a solemn oath in a very public situation.
So he did what he knew was wrong in order to save his pride. He had John beheaded and had the head brought to the daughter of Herodias.
There are times when we might be faced with martyrdom. Because of our belief in Jesus Christ, we are going to say things or do things that rile others. We are going to go against the “values” of the world. We are bound to make enemies. Yes, there are times that we might be faced with martyrdom.
However, there are more times when we will be faced by sins such as lust and pride, envy, wrath, and greed. Will we, like Herod, cave in and allow those sins to rule our lives? Or, will we use the grace available to us to say “no” to those sins and do what is right?
FAITH ACTION: Pray for those who face death because of their faith in Christ, that they may have the courage of the martyrs.