“When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him.”

Mark (6:14-29) now uses flashback to tell the story of the murder of John the Baptist.  The passage begins with Herod, having heard of Jesus, believing Him to be John the Baptist raised from the dead.  Then the story of John’s last days begins.  Herod arrested John because his wife was upset with John for declaring their marriage unlawful as they were brother and sister-in-law.  Herodias (the wife) wants John dead; meanwhile Herod likes to hear him speak (see above).  Then one day Herod is so enamored of the dance of Herodias’s daughter that he grants her virtually anything she wants.  Consulting with her mother, the girl asks that John be killed.  Herod does not want to do it but, because of his public promise, John is beheaded immediately.  John’s body is taken away and buried by his disciples.  Merriam-Webster’s two definitions of “perplexed” follow: filled with uncertainty; full of difficulty.  Hearing the truth in a culture steeped in lies and falsehood, whether two thousand years ago, today, or anytime in between, certainly often leads to uncertainty and/or difficulty to the one hearing the challenge of Sacred Scripture when he matches it up with his own lifestyle and beliefs.  But the truth is a big draw so many do like to listen to it.  This is particularly important to remember when we are discouraged by the response of those to whom we are sharing the Good News.  Uncertainty about the truth claims or difficulty in understanding or accepting them can be often expected.  But the truth is attractive and can find a home in the most hardened heart.  So be comforted that in speaking the truth in love we are doing the Lord’s work.  Plant the seed and give the Holy Spirit the chance to work on those we have confronted (in words and more importantly in actions) with the Gospel.

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