The behavior of Herod in today’s Gospel points out the difference between sentimentality and true feelings.
When Herod took up with his brother’s wife people everywhere were quietly going, “Tsk, tsk!” but they didn’t dare say anything openly against the king.
John the Baptist, however, didn’t hold back. He openly told Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” That wife, Herodias, hated John for questioning a mighty queen like herself, and she got Herod to arrest John.
The royal couple had a palace across the Jordan at a place called Machaerus, and it had an underground cell where Herod imprisoned John. Herod had always been fascinated by John. You could say he had a sentimental attachment to him.
So, when he found that the jailors and John were carrying on conversations in the underground prison, he found a way of sneaking halfway down the stone steps to a place where he could listen in. Mark said, “He was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him.”