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St. James' Glastonbury
Episcopal Church

Weekly Message from Rev. Matt Handi

Message from

The Rev. Matt Handi

July 10, 2024

I wonder if Herod carried guilt or misgivings about what he had done. Did he wake up with night terrors having just dreamed of a vision of John’s head on a platter? Did he weep knowing he was responsible for John’s death? Because he liked John. John could push him too far sometimes but he kind of liked to be challenged. It’s okay to be challenged when one holds the keys to the challenger’s freedom.

But one day, John went too far. John said his marriage was unlawful, that he should not have married her. Yet he did and when his wife heard this, that John said her marriage was unlawful, she was incensed. She wanted John dead. It is easy to demand evil things happen when one is married to the powerful.

But she didn’t know how to go about doing this. Her husband Herod was king. He was the powerful; she was but married to it. Still, she knew how to assert herself in that relationship. So, she waited. She waited for an opportunity to put her plan in action and that time came soon enough.

Herodias, Herod’s wife, had a daughter Salome. And Salome liked to dance. She was very good at dancing, her body became music, her hands made movements that told stories, her feet glided across the floor as if skating on ice, her movement was angelic; she was graced with gracefulness.

And on Herod’s birthday, when he invited all his courtiers and all the important people in all the land, he invited Salome to dance. And she danced! She was fluid and strong, her eyes drew each person in the room towards her, she spun and stepped and danced. She was a vision and all who watched her knew she understood them, it was their stories she told through movement; their heartbeats the beat to which she sallied.

And Herod was pleased. Very pleased indeed. He told her and through a face aglow and smiling lips he would lasso the moon if she only asked for it. Yet Salome could listen to a story just as much as she could tell one. She talked to her mother who expressed such grief, such hatred, such shock at the notion her marriage could be unlawful. Before asking the question, she knew the answer, “Mother, Herod has promised anything, what should I ask for?”

“The head of John the Baptist,” her mother replied.

Salome then repeated the same to Herod. He was concerned. Saddened. He looked down and across the room all at once, the floor on which Salome danced laid bare. With his face, no longer shining, the music now a distancing memory, he said, “Let it be so.” He could not afford to break an oath. It is easy to rely on honor when one is so powerful.

And so it was presented: John’s head on a platter.

Did he remember this night in his waking nightmares that caused him sleepless nights? Even now, in conversation with his courtiers, the ones who spoke of Jesus as being Elijah or some other prophet. But the only explanation that made sense of this man who performed miracles and raised people from the dead was that he must be John. John raised from the dead could now raise people from the dead.

“John, whom I beheaded, has been raised,” said Herod. He imagined the man he had murdered had come to walk his lands again. Like ghosts visiting Scrooge, Herod was tormented. The most powerful man in the land, tormented by the powerless and the dead.