Fr David's Sermon
16th July 2006
Sleaze, corruption, and infidelity Ė no Iím not speaking about HMG but about todayís Gospel about King Herod and the beheading of John the Baptist.
King Herod was little more than a quisling puppet of the Romans. He was insecure and feared for his throne. When John the Baptist condemned his marriage to his brother Philipís wife Herodias, Herodias took it very personally and wanted John out of the way. Fear held her back; fear of Johnís holiness and of his high standing amongst the people. Fear held her back until her daughter (usually known as Salome) dancing before Herod on his birthday gave her an opportunity. Together they asked for the head of John the Baptist. Herod felt he couldnít back out so the order was duly given and the head bought in on a silver platter.
Herod remained haunted by all this, so much so that when he heard reports of Jesusí healing ministry he was convinced John had come back. Not so of course. Mark tells us the story to remind us of the cost of discipleship, and of the cost of prophetic ministry. Ultimately his concern is to portray the cost of Jesusí ministry Ė his death on the cross.
The life of faith costly, if we stand for God we will be opposed. Like Amos who wanted to remain as a tree surgeon and shepherd we prefer the comfortable and secure but God may have other ideas. Being a Christian in modern Britain is not easy. We face opposition and difficulty. We need to identify the forms it takes if we are to resist it. Some comes from without and some is self-inflicted.
These are just a few of the ways in which we can face opposition and difficulties as modern Christians, reminding us of the cost of discipleship. If we feel discouraged, St. Paulís words to the Ephesians can encourage and cheer us.
He reminds us that God in Christ blesses us and that we are his beloved children who have entered into restored friendship with him through the cross. It is worth spending sometime with Paulís words so that we come to know the spiritual reality of what can otherwise sound like pious phrases. It is for such truth that we face opposition. As we grow in our knowledge of God we are enabled to stand against such opposition and commend our faith to others.
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