July 16, 2000

Mark 6:14-29 (CEV)

Jesus became so well-known that Herod the ruler heard about him. Some people thought that he was John the Baptist, who had come back to life with the power to work miracles. Others thought he was Elijah or some other prophet who had lived long ago. But when Herod heard about Jesus, he said, "This must be John! I had his head cut off, and now he has come back to life."

Herod had earlier married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, But John had told him, "It isn't right for you to take your brother's wife!" So, in order to please Herodias, Herod arrested John and put him in prison.

Herodias had a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she could not do it because Herod was afraid of John and protected him. He knew that John was a good and holy man. Even though Herod was confused by what John said, he was glad to listen to him. And he often did.

Finally, Herodias got her chance when Herod gave a great birthday celebration for himself and invited his officials, his army officers, and the leaders of Galilee. The daughter of Herodias came in and danced for Herod and his guests. She please them so much that Herod said, "Ask for anything, and it's yours! I swear that I will give you as much as half my kingdom, if you want it."

The girl left and asked her mother, "What do you think I should ask for?"

Her mother answered, "The head of John the Baptist!"

The girl hurried back and told Herod, "Right now on a platter I want the head of John the Baptist!"

The king was very sorry for what he had said. But he did not want to break the promise he had made in front of his guests. At once he ordered a guard to cut off John's head there in the prison. The guard put the head on a platter and took it to the girl. Then she gave it to her mother.

When John's followers learned that he had been killed, they took his body and put it in a tomb.


1. Throwing a party for yourself is helpful in light of the commandment to love your neighbor as you love yourself. We do need a good appreciation of who we are which leads us to appreciate the goodness of all creation. By all means throw a party if it leads to the building up of the whole community.

2. Throwing a party for yourself is not helpful in light of getting stuck with your deeds and actions which lead to slighting that which you know to be good and holy to save face. Isn't this where life goes astray -- knowing the good and holy and not being able to set it free to be the good and holy and lead one to being good and holy. First we protect ourselves from the changes needed by the good and holy and then, so quickly and easily, we destroy it altogether. This is the state of affairs we constantly find ourselves dealing with in every era.

3. So there you have it. The grand choice between throwing a PARTY and THROWING a party. May your week bring you to a PARTY which enhances goodness and holiness. May you receive forgiveness for THROWING away that which is so precious, our relationship with one another and with GOD.

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