“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never fail you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
In one of Shakespeare’s plays, we find the story of Macbeth. After having become guilty of murder, Macbeth heard a knock on the door and said: “Where is that knocking coming from? What’s happening to me, that I’m freighted of every noise? (looking at his hands) Whose hands are these? Ha! They’re plucking out my eyes. Will all the water in the ocean wash this blood from my hands? No, instead, my hands will stain the seas scarlet, turning green waters red.”
In our Gospel passage today, Herod tries to convince himself that Jesus Christ is the resurrected version of John the Baptist whom he killed by offering his head as payment for the oath he made after a little girl’s dance. Like Macbeth, Herod’s crimes haunted him. Whether we like it or not, sin robs us of our peace of mind. The pain of avoiding sin is brief but the pain of a guilty conscience is like a wound that wouldn’t heal.
Dear friends, let brotherly love continue. Do not be a Herod to someone just because he or she is telling you the truth. Do not be like the kinsfolk of Jesus who were almost throwing him down the cliff because He told them the truth. Let brotherly love continue; be good to strangers because no one knows tomorrow. Be kind to prisoners and the less privileged as if you were also in their condition.
Let brotherly love continue; do not defile the marriage bed. This was the sin Herod committed which made John the Baptist speak up. Adultery is the very opposite of brotherly love. Adultery was the sin that brought David down and made him lose respect and credibility. Even his own son had the audacity to rape his sister and nothing was quite normal in David’s house again. There can be no justification for breaking your marital vow. As the book of Hebrews say: “God will judge the immoral and adulterous.” (Hebrews 13:4).
Let brotherly love continue, “Keep your life free from the love of money.” How? “Be Content with what you have” How? Put your trust in God’s Providence. Do not build your security on what you have in the bank, your gold, your lands or properties – all these things could fail you when you need them most but God will never fail you. Our readings say: “Hence, we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid…’”
Today, we remember St. Agatha, a virgin and martyr. After dedicating her life to Christ, her beauty drew powerful men to her like a magnet. But she refused all suitors in favour of the Lord. Perhaps during the persecution of Emperor Decius around 250, she was arrested, interrogated, tortured, and martyred. She refused to renounce her faith or to give in to the powerful men who desired her. An ancient homily relates: “A true virgin, she wore the glow of a pure conscience and the crimson of the lamb’s blood for her cosmetics.” It is also the constant tradition that her torture included sexual mutilation. Whereas Saint Lucy is shown in art with her eyeballs on a platter, Saint Agatha is normally shown holding a plate on which rest her own breasts, as they were cut off by her pagan tormentors before her execution.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, strengthen my resolve to live righteously. Amen.
Bible Study: Hebrews 13:1-8, Psalm 27 and Mark 6:14-29).