Pentecost +7 - Year B
Living a “temporary life in a temporary world”, we might learn two lessons from this passage:
Telling the truth is to be avoided.
No second thoughts allowed.
See where the truth got John — headless. See where it got Jesus — rejected at home and hung.
These lessons jump out at our “fear response” (wherever it may be located). We look at this passage and see truth being spun by folks trying to define Jesus. It is difficult to tell the truth in a confused setting. Sometimes there is only a Jimmy Stewart/Jesus story/parable to be drawled out for those who might later remember it and think again.
When we read about John we see again that power has its perogative to avoid self-reflection. If those in power don’t get us through ignoring, marginalizing, discriminating — there is always “stop, question, frisk” as well as arrest, prison, execution.
Herod learned the first lessons wells — get born to power and use its trappings to stay there. These first decisions mean that there can be no second thought given for it is a sign of weakness and you will soon be powerless. There is no Prince and Pauper story here to learn from. When it comes to someone else taking the brunt of our self- and societal-imposed model of power — that’s simply necessary, no matter how much private grieving might go on.
We seldom wait for over-active speculating to clear — it’s John, it’s Elijah, it’s a prophet-of-old — so we can see what is in front of us. A second thought would be helpful.
Speed of thought becomes a manipulative tool and leads us to being in charge — missing important questions or thoughtful responses — that might add value to a quick insight. Looking for more partners would be helpful.
Blessings to you as you do what you can to honor a good deed simply because it is good, no matter from whom it comes, and the humility to see if there is a another and better way forward. May you live in this temporary world as though it had some persistence.