The Sad Fruit of Hate

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Saturday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

5 August: Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major – Optional Memorial

Caravaggio: Beheading of John the Baptist

“Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”  Matthew 14:8

Ugh, what a bad day to say the least.  St. John the Baptist was beheaded at the request of Salome, the daughter of Herodias.  John was in prison for speaking the truth to Herod regarding his marriage, and Herodias was filled with hate toward John.  So Herodias had her daughter dance in the presence of Herod and his guests.  Herod was so impressed, he promised Salome up to half of his kingdom.  Instead, her request was for the head of John the Baptist.

Even on the surface this is a bizarre request.  Salome is promised up to half of the kingdom and, instead, she asks for the death of a good and holy man.  In fact, Jesus said of John that no one born of woman was greater than he was.  So why all the hate by Herodias and her daughter?

This sad incident illustrates the power of anger in its most extreme form.  When anger brews and grows it causes deep passion, so much so that it clouds a person’s thinking and reason.  Hate and revenge can consume a person and lead to complete foolishness.

Herod is also a witness of extreme irrationality here.  He is pressured to do what he does not want to do because he is afraid of doing the right thing.  He is overwhelmed by the hate in the heart of Herodias and, as a result, gives in to the execution of John whom he actually appeared to like and enjoyed listening to.

Normally we seek to be inspired by the good example of others.  But, in this case, we find we can be “inspired” in a different way.  We should use the witness of John’s execution as an opportunity to look at any struggles we have with anger, resentment and especially hate.  Hate is an ugly passion that can sneak in and cause much destruction in our lives and the lives of others.  Even the beginnings of this disordered passion should be confessed and overcome.

Reflect, today, upon whether you see any hate in your heart.  Have you held on to some grudge or bitterness that is not going away?  Is that passion growing and causing damage to your life and the lives of others?  If so, resolve to let go of it and forgive.  It’s the right thing to do.

Lord, give me the grace I need to look into my heart and see any tendencies of anger, resentment and hatred.  Please purify me of these and set me free.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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