The Gospel account (Mk 6, 17-29) goes:
Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias's own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you." He even swore [many things] to her, "I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the Baptist." The girl hurried back to the king's presence and made her request, "I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist." The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.1. This feast prods us on our task as messengers of the truth. The ORDO writes for this day:
St. John's fearless condemnation of Herod's unlawful marriage incurred the hatred of the king's bride, Herodias. She had John imprisoned and, finally killed. St. John the Baptist teaches us to be strong in carrying out the mission God has given us.2. But we are not only messengers. We are also recipients of the message.
God sent John to Herod to bring him the message to repent and end his sinful relationship. But Herod, much through the urgings of Herodias, rejected the message.
God also sends us messages through people. At times, the message is regarding our wrongdoing, misgiving or omission. Of course, these messages do not come palatable. Like Herod, we many times ignore the message, sometimes, like Herod, eliminate the messenger.
We are familiar with these situation and attitude - in workplaces, in communities, even in families. And very unfortunately, in our society, and in our government. Our tendency is, when we do not like the message, we shoot the messenger.
Maybe silencing the messenger stops the bugging. But only temporarily. The more persistent messenger is within. Unless we have numbed our consciences, and have closed our hearts to the Spirit. Silencing the messenger however does not change the wrongdoing we did. And we will still be held accountable for it.
Every messenger God gives us is a chance to change. God gives us a lot of chances, but let us remember, there will always be a last.
May we be courageous messengers of the truth, and humble recipients of the truth as well.