Saturday of the Seventeenth week in Ordinary Time
The death of John the Baptist
"Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist." And God allowed it. He did not throw down his lightning from heaven to destroy that impertinent face; he did not order the earth to open and gobble up the dinner guests of that hideous banquet. God gave a more beautiful crown to a just man and thus left a magnificent consolation to those who, in the future, would be victims of the same injustices. Let us listen, then, all of us who, in spite of our honest life, have to suffer at the hands of evil people... The greatest among those born of women (Lk 7:28) was put to death at the request of an unchaste girl, of a lost woman; and for having defended the divine laws! May such considerations help us bear bravely our own sufferings...
But notice the moderate tone of the evangelist who, so far as possible, seeks extenuating circumstances with this crime. About Herod, he notes that he acted “because of his oaths and the guests” and that “he was distressed”; about the girl, the evangelist says she “had been prompted by her mother”… We too should not hate evil people, not criticize the faults of our fellow men, but hide them as discreetly as possible; let us welcome charity into our souls. For concerning this unchaste and bloodthirsty woman, the evangelist spoke with every possible moderation… You, on the contrary, do not hesitate to repay your fellow man with wickedness... Quite different is the way the saints behave: they weep for the sinners instead of cursing them. Let us do as they do; let us weep for Herodias and for those who imitate her. Because today, too, we see meals like Herod’s; it is not Christ’s forerunner who is put to death at them but Christ’s members who are torn apart.