Aug. 29, 2016

Beheading of John the Baptist: Bad parents are bad influence

"What shall I ask for'? She replied, 'The head of John the Baptist'" (Mk.6:24)

A mother tells her daughter to ask for someone's head as if it were a piece of chocolate. That's how bad it is. So simple looking right- "The head of John the Baptist". And what was John's crime? Scripture says, "For John had told Herod, 'It is against the law for you to have your brother's wife" (Mk.6:18). This made Herodias furious and determined to eliminate John. And she did that. OMG! 

Today we celebrate the Feast of Saint John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ. He was a courageous prophet who spoke the truth, faced the truth and died for the truth. John dared Herod for being in illicit relationship with his brother Philip's wife. Herod and Herodias were uncomfortable with John. They discussed him. They had the opportunity during Herod's birthday, and made his head the great birthday gift. Unfortunately for Herod, he lost his birthday to John. He killed John on his birthday, and by so doing, made John to gain his eternal birthday in heaven.

Each time I read the passage of the beheading of John the baptist, I wonder between Herod and Herodias whose culpability was more. It seemed they both shared in the crime and wickedness equally. What stands out however, is failure of parental responsibility or what could be called, the example of bad parenting.

We were not told how old the daughter of Herodias was. All we were told was that she came in and danced and that delighted Herod. Hence he made the promise, Ask me anything you like and I will give it to you?" Was that a plan? Did Herod know? Did he pre-arrange with Herodias to bring in her daughter to dance? Did Herodias know that her daughter was coming to ask her for help with regard to what she could ask for? Did the girl know her nasty step-father was going to make her a promise? Could all that be mere coincidence?

Then she went back to her mother to say, "What shall I ask?" When the mother responded, "The head of John the Baptist", the little girl didn't seem shocked. She rather "rushed back to the king and made her request, 'I want you to give me John the Baptist's head, immediately on a dish" (Mk.6:25). That's why her age factor could have been of some importance here. If she was a little child, that meant she would have been acting under the instinct of her mother, with the excitement of receiving a great presence of the human head; a strange gift indeed. If she was grown up, she would have questioned why John the Baptist's head. If she was adult, she would have contested the idea entirely. But she just made the request. In any case, both the mother and the king Herod were ruthless to John the Baptist, and implicitly, to their daughter. They offered her the worst presence.

The entire episode opens up the dilemma of bad parenting on children. Imagine the disappoinment these parents would be to the girl who danced afterwards. The head of John the Baptist was the worst gift of her life. When the head was brought to her on a dish, she just handed it over to the mom regrettably, for sure. That's sad.

Parents need to be careful what kind of gifts they give to their children. What precedents do you set for your children in the family? What do you teach? Like Herod and Herodias, many parents today are partners in crime. They do crazy things together and protect each other negatively. The children may not have the courage to say, but that's bad parenting. Some parents aid their children to commit crimes, protect them and even make them feel comfortable in stupidity. That's the head of John the Baptist you are giving to that child. As parents, know that some persons in the society suffer for every bad choice you make for your children.

Dear parents, kindly avoid the mistakes of Herod and Herodias. Build good reputation, good examples, good family.