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Homily

NOTES ON MARK 6:14-29: A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY OR GUILTY CONSCIENCE?
By Augustine Agwulonu
Fri, 05 Feb 2016

NOTES ON MARK 6:14-29: A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY OR GUILTY CONSCIENCE?

Why was Herod convinced and quick to declare that Jesus was John the Baptist risen from the dead? Was Herod deluded by a wishful thinking, desiring John to come alive again, after he murdered him just to show that he was a man of his words? Was he still troubled by the fact that he murdered John? What does the evangelist, Mark, wish to say about Jesus and his public appearance? Mark was probably pointing out that Jesus still remained unknown in an environment, where he had manifested himself in the power of word and deed. He might be indicting the people for this culpable ignorance. Or he was still delaying the recognition if Jesus's true identity, because it was not yet the time.

Mark might have equally be giving a prelude to the narrative about the beheading of John the Baptist. But did Herod and the people truly believe in the resurrection of the dead? If they did, why could this belief not prevent Herod from the gruesome murder of John?

It can be said that behind Herod's affirmation that John had risen from the dead could be the fear of retribution. He was sure not to escape the consequence of murdering John. He acted cowardly. Herod got himself into trouble by the outlandish promise he made to his daughter. The young girl had performed exceptionally at dancing. He swore an oath publicly to grant his daughter whatever she asked him. But his wife, Herodias, seized the opportunity to have John the Baptist killed. This had been her desire over time. As her daughter approached her to enlighten her on what to ask from her father, she made her daughter ask for John's head on a platter. And Herod obliged her. What a pathetic act! Why should a mother show her innocent daughter such a wicked way?

Now, was the speculation about John the Baptist rising from the dead a blessing or a curse? Our people have an adage, which says that when the stone climbs a tree, fear grips the clay pot! Was it game over for Herod?

In all there there was a good news. And that was, something greater than John the Baptist was available. John the Baptist is the greatest among those born of women. He suffered martyrdom for the truth. He also preached about judgment, the separation of the wheat from the chaff (see Luke 3:9). There will surely be judgment. But Jesus has come to extend God's healing mercy and forgiveness. Herod could still benefit from Jesus's mission and ministry. Indeed he made a grave mistake by killing John. But Jesus could forgive him. If he opened himself up to the light of Jesus Christ, he would be saved. The speculation about John the Baptist rising from the dead was not as important as the presence of Jesus.

The same is true of us today. What counts is not our past mistakes, but the presence of Jesus Christ to help and heal us. If we would go to Jesus now, then we shall indeed be made well again. Instead of sitting down and speculating about the dead, we should rise up and go to meet Jesus. He is in our midst. He will bless us and deliver us from our fears and worries.

 

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