MEANWHILE, HERODIAS, the wife of Herod, found an opportunity for doing away with John the Baptist, whose destruction she had long been plotting. On his birthday that year Herod gave a great feast, inviting the officials, tribunes, and all the men of distinction in Galilee. Salome, the daughter of Herodias, danced for the entertainment of Herod and his guests, and the king was so pleased with the girl’s performance that he swore to grant her whatever favor she would request, even though it were the half of his kingdom.
Uncertain as to what she should ask for, Salome went out and consulted with her mother, who told her to request the head of John the Baptist. Without questioning her mother’s bizarre fancy, the royal danseuse returned to the banquet hall and told the king to bring her at once the head of the Baptist on a dish.
Herod was distressed, but he had promised under oath and before witnesses to give Salome whatever she wished. He sent off an executioner to the prison to behead John, and the gory trophy was shortly brought out to Salome on a salver, and she in tum took it away and presented it to Herodias. The headless trunk was delivered to John’s disciples. After burying it, they went off and told Jesus what had happened.
It was at this time that Herod began hearing of the miracles wrought by Jesus. It was said by some that the wonderworker was John the Baptist, risen from the dead. The king himself tended to believe this, though he knew John had been beheaded. In any case, he was interested in seeing Jesus and made some efforts to interview Him.
Herod’s interest in Jesus was probably reported to the teams of the Apostles as they traveled about on the mission Christ had given them. Suspicious of the tetrarch’s motives in wanting to see their Master, they returned to Jesus and reported on their work. They had cast out many devils, anointed and healed the sick, preached the gospel from village to village, and worked cures everywhere.
Meditation: Though Herod hesitated when asked to behead John the Baptist, he capitulated to the desires of a dancing girl who had extracted a promise and an oath from him before his guests. His pride and boasting had led him to murder a prophet. And unchecked pride may lead us into serious sin. Making myself, my activities, my ideas the almost exclusive subject of my conversation may be a sign that pride is one of my great failings.
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 87-88. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.