Memorial of Saint Agatha, virgin and martyr
(Sirach 47:2-11; Mark 6:14-29)
In Shakespeare’s tragedy “Macbeth” the protagonist assumes the royal throne after killing the king. His cunning does not end there. He finds that he must keep on killing to retain power. His next victim is a general named Banquo whose ghost returns to haunt Macbeth. In today’s gospel Herod experiences a similar haunting.
The gospel relates how Herod kills John the Baptist. The story begins with Herod becoming disturbed when he hears about Jesus. Since Jesus’ fame as a prophet has come in the wake of John’s murder, Herod believes that he is John reincarnated. No one has told Herod that Jesus is John. Evidently Herod’s guilt for the crime has moved him to think it.
Evil like a fault in the earth surface can run deep. We should not underestimate its influence and are wise to not become entangled in it. When we do something wrong, we need to confess our sin and move on with life. Trying to hide what we do will likely end in delving ever lower into the realm of atrocity.