In today's reading, Mark tells the story of the beheading of John the Baptist. John, who was recognized by many as the greatest prophet at the time, some even believing he was the Christ, was imprisoned by Herod. Herod found John interesting and liked to hear him speak. But it was Herodias, the ex-wife of Phillip, Herod's brother, that detested John because John spoke out in public of her marrying Herod, her brother-in-law. John stated "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife" (Mk 6:18), speaking to Herod.
I stopped to think that times have not really changed since those early Christian years. There was still malice, hatred, deceit, idolotry, etc., that drove people to murder, executions and betrayal. In the year 2012, those behaviors still exist in today's times. I believe what seperates us from those times is that today, we are rooted in Christ. In those days, I compare it to the outlaw days of our western culture. There was not much law and order except by those who wielded the staff. And they ruled with iron fists and without conscience where beheading was not thought of twice.
Today, because we ARE rooted in Christ, those who choose to do bad know the consquences of their actions. Christ did an awesome job of laying out the law for us and the consequences that we face if we choose not to follow him. A million beheadings will not equal what we face in damnation if we turn away from God. Often times I think how my decisions affect my final judgement. Did I do everything I could to follow Christ? Did I love and serve the Lord to the best of my ability? How do people see me as it relates to Christ? Do I take the time to speak to at least one person everyday about Christ?
It's a complex way of living but Christ, in all his wisdom, made it very easy for us. "You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mk 12:31).
"Lord, even in times of distress, give me the wisdom to love my enemies and neighbors as myself. Grant me peace where there is dispair. Open my heart to receive the Holy Spirit at all times." - Amen
Meditation: Mark 6:17-29 (http://wau.org/meditations/2012/08/29)
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