Herodias, who had been the wife of Philip, son of Herod the Great, deserted him; marrying his half-brother Herod, Antipas. While commoners did not dare to criticize the doings of kings and queens, John the Baptist spoke out against her sinful union with Herod Antipas. That had Herodias forcing Herod to imprison John in the cellar of a castle they had across from Jericho, but she could not get him to kill John.
Herod was a superstitious man who feared what vengeance the saintly John might take on him. St. Mark wrote, “Herod feared John, knowing him to be a just and holy man. When he heard him speak he was perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him.”
We can picture Herod, slipping halfway down the stone stairway to John’s cell, listening to him talk to the jailor and to the other prisoners.
Herod had an interest in religious matters and in saintly people, but that didn’t make him a religious man. The same goes for us. We can’t just like religion, the way Herod did. We must live it.
Seventy years ago there was a series of four Burma Shave signs along the old Highway 66. It was: At each crossing..... Look each way.....A harp sounds pretty..... But it’s hard to play.
We could change it to:
You must work at your religion……To take you all the way….. A harp sounds pretty..... But it’s hard to play.