“Then the king deeply regretted what he had said; but because of the vows he had made in front of his guests, he couldn’t refuse her” (Mark 6:26).
Tables are pretty common objects. Every day we sit at a table to work or eat. Many of the most important government decisions are made around a table; complex emergency surgeries are performed on tables; and tables support the weight of thousands of notebooks and books.
King Herod also had a table. Instead of governing, this King was governed by fear.
John the Baptist had reprimanded him for his immorality, for having married his brother’s wife. «Herod believed John to be a prophet of God, and fully intended to set him at liberty. But he delayed his purpose from fear Herodias» (The Desire of Ages, ch. 22, p. 220).
At his table, this time, we find people who weren’t necessarily there to celebrate out of love, but rather because of political convenience, out of obligation, and as accomplices in several things that were perhaps not entirely good.
We watch Herod make an offer to show off, out of vanity, being wrongfully motivated.
When Salome replied she wanted John the Baptist’s head as a gift, Herod didn’t know what to say. Everyone was disgusted by her grotesque request, but they were so drunk and their senses were so numbed, that no one tried to defend the prophet.
Herod trusted John, his advice and criteria. But he had made an offer and, because of his oath and those who were with him at the table, he gave in out of fear and carried out the order of wicked Salome, who had been instigated by Herodias.
We’re often faced with compromising situations that actually only involve» our reputation or external image. It’s extremely important that we review the role other people’s opinion will play in our decisions, if when we’re in decisive moments we’ll give in to peer pressure or not.
«Oh, how often has the life of the innocent been sacrificed through the intemperance of those who should have been guardians of justice! » (ibid, p. 222).
Maybe you’re not in the habit of drinking, but we can reach that state of clumsiness by other means. Through this story God also calls us to practice temperance and to be careful of the influence our decisions can have on ourselves and others.