PROPER 10 (15) – Year B

8th Sunday after Pentecost — July 14, 2024

Gospel Lectionary Text

Mark 6:14-29

6:14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus' name had become known. Some were saying, "John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him."

6:15 But others said, "It is Elijah." And others said, "It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old."

6:16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised."

6:17 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because Herod had married her.

6:18 For John had been telling Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."

6:19 And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not,

6:20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him.

6:21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee.

6:22 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it."

6:23 And he solemnly swore to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom."

6:24 She went out and said to her mother, "What should I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the baptizer."

6:25 Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter."

6:26 The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her.

6:27 Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison,

6:28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother.

6:29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.


Welcome to the eighth week after Pentecost. Last week, Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs to preach and heal, which caused quite a stir. The news had even reached the house of Herod, who was troubled. He wondered if such deeds of power could be John the Baptist coming back to haunt him, which brings us to this week’s text — the grisly story of John’s beheading.

It has all the necessary elements for a Hollywood drama: a prophetic figure, unjustly imprisoned for disturbing the powers that be; an execution inspired by a crowd; a conflicted ruler who sacrifices the innocent victim to pacify the mob.

Sound familiar? Just as John the Baptist “prepared the way” for Jesus in life and ministry, he also did so in death — as a scapegoat, killed for the sins of others. But the reality is that neither the circumstances of John nor Jesus’ death are all that unique. History is littered with the blood of those who have been sacrificed to maintain the status quo.

What if the uniqueness of Jesus’ death lies not in the act of dying itself but in God’s solidarity with all scapegoats of history, including John. Through Jesus, God exposes and then subverts the very mechanism of scapegoating, not just becoming a victim, but by revealing a God in whom there is no violence and who is in rivalry with nothing, not even death.


How does recognizing Jesus' solidarity with the scapegoats of history change the way you view his death?


Come, Holy Spirit, wild and free. Do as you please. Shine your light on me that I might see things as they are, not as I am. Free me to act in your name with courage, creativity, and compassion. See the complete prayer

Word from Below Reflections

Pawn of Desire

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