Few of us want to hear a hard truth, and perhaps fewer of us want to be the ones called to deliver one. Today’s texts remind us that bearing God’s word is risky business. King Jereboam exiles the prophet Amos for calling him to account. Herod delivers John the baptizer’s head on a platter to his wife, Herodias, to fulfill a promise he never should have made. Speaking truth to power can cost us our lives.
Yet this is exactly what God calls us to do. God’s prophets are ordinary people called to deliver an extraordinary message. Listen to the praise Paul heaps on the Ephesians, naming them as God’s blessed, God’s chosen, and God’s adopted children (Eph. 1:3-5). It is the kind of pep talk coaches give their players just before sending them back into the game against a seemingly unbeatable team. Like Amos, who freely confesses his humble background and unlikely credentials, we are sent from worship each week to proclaim God’s in-breaking reign to all the powers that profess to rule this world.
Still, beneath the apparent victory of power over truth, there is a hidden story bursting through the seams of this tale. Yes, John the Baptist dies, but the integrity of his witness outshines all of Herod’s corrupt court intrigues. Herod himself was drawn to John’s preaching, and in the end it is Herod’s character that seems most tragic.
Like Herod, we are each challenged to really listen to the challenging voice of God in our day and age, and to turn away from the lures and temptations that attempt to seduce us away from fidelity to God. Through us, God speaks words of peace, love, and faithfulness that challenge the world’s violence, hatred, and treachery.
Connect With St. Matthew
View the weekly email: The Sunday Shout-Out for July 15, 2018
Subscribe to our publications: Subscribe