Today’s gospel is the story of the martyrdom of John the Baptist from Mark 6:14-29. John had justly warned Herod of his sin of taking his brother’s wife, Herodias, as his own. She wanted John dead. This verse caught my attention:
But an opportunity came one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Mark 6:21
Who were these “leading men?” We only know of them and they are only remembered because they were invited to Herod’s party and were witnesses to Herod’s murder of The Baptist. These were the important people of the time. But now they’re long forgotten. All their plans, loves, dreams, and stratagems are no more; they only remembered now as witnesses to the martyrdom of someone who was far greater than they could ever imagine. There is no record that anyone of them spoke up for John. Perhaps if even one of them had spoken, Herod would have spared John’s life. “Young lady, that was a beautiful dance, but is it really worth the life of a man? What evil has John done to you that justice demands such payment?” No, only silence. Likely they were afraid of Herod, as He was afraid of them.
As years passed, these “leading men” faced their own death and judgment. It’s a sad testimony that their lives are noted only for their silence in the face of the murderous injustice done to one of the greatest Saints. They were “leading men,” yet that is their legacy.
Consider – who today are the “leading men?” Do they still refuse to speak out for the weak and helpless? Perhaps the “leading men” are vying for your attention, your money, and your vote? Or are they are plying you with useless information to the point of mind-numbing distraction? Are they too standing by in silence as innocence is slaughtered to defend evil?
Don’t be deceived. The end of all “leading men” is the same. Pray for the grace of wisdom and final perseverance.