Head of the Class

16th century icon of St. John the Precursor at the Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
“Report Card of St. John the Baptist”
©️2020 by Gloria M. Chang

17th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday (Year II)

Matthew 14:1-12 

Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus. 

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2 thoughts on “Head of the Class

  1. Gloria

    The Dance

    The king invited guests to his birthday dinner-
    friends, dignitaries, influential people.

    For the evening’s entertainment
    he offered the talents of a young woman,
    the daughter of his unlawful wife.

    She danced before the king and his guests,
    a performance so superb and delightful
    that he offered her anything she asked,
    “even to half his kingdom.”

    She went to her mother for advice
    about what she should ask for,
    then came back and stood before the king
    with her request-
    the head of the holy man languishing in prison
    by orders of the king, to please his wife.

    He didn’t want to issue the order,
    but couldn’t take it back in front of all his guests.
    He had talked with the holy man
    who reproached him
    for marrying his brother’s wife,
    and found him interesting.

    Maybe, just maybe, for the rest of his life,
    the king regretted speaking impulsively,
    when silence would have been the better part.

    Gloria Ziemienski October 2015


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