4th Friday in ordinary time, also feast of Saint Blaise and Saint Ansgar, February 3, 2023
Heb 13:1-8; Ps 27:1,3,5,8-9; Mk 6:14-29
The group of friends I hang around with, let’s call it the “Rockford” area even though I live in Belvidere, are known around the country as, “Those hospitable folks from Rockford!” They are always willing to throw a party or offer a meal and bed for someone passing through.” One could say, “It’s a Midwestern thing.” But I suppose, it is also a southern thing, an eastern thing, or a western thing, depending on who you talk to. However, the one thing common in all these places, is the people who are charitable, welcoming, and happy. Yes, I said happy, because it really doesn’t matter how much money you have, how big of a house, or fancy car you have, or, insert here any perceived wealthy status. It’s not the status or wealth that matters, it is what your heart says and does that matters. Hospitality and ministering to our neighbors are what makes us happy. These are the works of mercy the writer to the Hebrews is referring to. And by showing (and doing) those works of mercy, we receive God’s mercy and our hearts glow with love. It makes sense then that we are happy.
Herod, for his part, was not so happy. While he was using his influence to throw a big party, he got caught. He got caught not only in adultery, he got caught in letting his pride take over and make a promise that would haunt him for years. “Give me John the Baptist’s head on a platter,” says his daughter when he proudly proclaims to her that he will grant her anything. In order to not look foolish in front of his guests, Herod had to do what she asked. Even if it meant he would regret it. In this case, his hospitality brought him great distress. For you see, he was living in a prideful situation and was not allowing God to work in his life. Even though he had everything he could ask for from a monetary side, he was not happy. So when Herod heard of Jesus, it frightened him. So much so that he said it was John the Baptist risen from the dead.
The Psalm today proclaims, “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” If we truly believe that, then go back and read the first reading from Hebrews again. Let brotherly love continue and show the hospitality they deserve, just like my friends do. Give up all those things that take you away from your happiness, or take you down the path Herod went, the one of pride. Put it all aside and imitate those with faith in Christ. Be hospitable and show brotherly love. Christ never changes; He is the same as yesterday, today, and forever. And neither should you change unless it is to imitate Christ. For if you do, He will never forsake you or abandon you, and His mercy will never end.