platter-of-head

“Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” And God allowed it. He did not throw down his lightning from heaven to destroy that impertinent face; he did not order the earth to open and gobble up the dinner guests of that hideous banquet. God gave a more beautiful crown to a just man and thus left a magnificent consolation to those who, in the future, would be victims of the same injustices. Let us listen, then, all of us who, in spite of our honest life, have to suffer at the hands of evil people… The greatest among those born of women (Lk 7:28) was put to death at the request of an unchaste girl, of a lost woman; and for having defended the divine laws! May such considerations help us bear bravely our own sufferings…

But notice the moderate tone of the evangelist who, so far as possible, seeks extenuating circumstances with this crime. About Herod, he notes that he acted “because of his oaths and the guests” and that “he was distressed”; about the girl, the evangelist says she “had been prompted by her mother”… We too should not hate evil people, not criticize the faults of our fellow men, but hide them as discreetly as possible; let us welcome charity into our souls. For concerning this unchaste and bloodthirsty woman, the evangelist spoke with every possible moderation… You, on the contrary, do not hesitate to repay your fellow man with wickedness… Quite different is the way the saints behave: they weep for the sinners instead of cursing them. Let us do as they do; let us weep for Herodias and for those who imitate her. Because today, too, we see meals like Herod’s; it is not Christ’s forerunner who is put to death at them but Christ’s members who are torn apart.

—  Saint John Chrysostom (c.345-407), priest at Antioch then Bishop of Constantinople, Doctor of the Church
Homily 48 on Saint Matthew’s Gospel
Good morning & God bless you all on this beautiful Saturday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time...

Gospel MT 14:1-12

Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus
and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist.
He has been raised from the dead;
that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”

Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison
on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip,
for John had said to him,
“It is not lawful for you to have her.”
Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people,
for they regarded him as a prophet.
But at a birthday celebration for Herod,
the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests
and delighted Herod so much
that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for.
Prompted by her mother, she said,
“Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests who were present,
he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison.
His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl,
who took it to her mother.
His disciples came and took away the corpse
and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.