Wednesday, August 28, 2013
It’s August 29, the feast day of the beheading of St. John the Baptist. J (In class, it always
gets a laugh of sorts.) From Christianity.com (excerpts):
Herod Antipas smiled and nodded with approval. His step-daughter
Salome* swayed and twirled in front of him and his birthday-party guests, her
graceful figure filling them with longing. Her performance done, Herod and the
guests applauded. What a dance! Inflamed by his senses and the mood of the
moment, Herod cried, "Ask me what you want--up to half my kingdom--and it
is yours!" And he swore a great oath to confirm his promise.
As a Tetrarch (ruler of one quarter of a Roman province) Herod was more
than able to provide a handsome gift even by first century standards.
Down in the dungeons of Herod's fortress (named Machaerus) a man's fate
was about to be decided. John the Baptizer was under lock and key in one of
those gloomy holds. The cause was this: he had rebuked Herod for stealing
another man's wife--Herodias. This woman had been married to Herod's quiet
half-brother, Phillip. Herodias was furious, and convinced Herod to arrest
John. Herod was only too willing; he was suspicious of the large crowds John
However, once Herod got John in his lockup, he talked with him and
found he liked the guy. He didn't understand what John was saying about
holiness and salvation, but it seemed to be something he
should hear. Salome approached Herod. Evidently she had made up her mind. The
guests and the king turned to hear what she would ask.
"Give me now the head of John the Baptizer on a platter!" said the girl.
Looking around at his guests, he saw only one thing. If he was to save
face, he must fulfill his promise. He ordered the execution. According to a
long-standing tradition, John was beheaded on this day, August
29, probably around the year A.D. 28.