St. John the Baptist, pray for us that we will always act in a lawful manner, as you courageously counseled Herod to do.
Act lawfully. That is, guided by standards.
Established standards, based on the Ten Commandments.
Law binds people precisely so that we do not step blindly into impossible moral situations.
Herod was drunk on wine. He was drunk on lascivious pleasure. But even worse: he was drunk on his own power. He threw open a door that he lived to regret having opened. “Ask whatever you want of me, even to half my kingdom!” I am Mr. Big! I am Mr. Grand!
Ok, Mr. Big. Ok, Mr. Grand: Kill the holy man. Make good on your grandiose promise. Kill the holy man.
Talk about a situation of perverse logic. ‘Now, I have to kill the holy man, because otherwise I will look like a bloviating nobody. My word won’t mean anything if I don’t kill him. So I have no choice.’
Drunk on wine. Drunk on lascivious pleasure. But worse: Drunk on grandiosity.
‘There was a red line! This can’t stand! Indispensible nation! Military options! There was a red line!’
Sounds a lot like a similar situation of perverse logic to me. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem frankly asks us, “Who appointed the U.S. the policeman of the Middle East? Has Syria attacked the U.S.?”
May cool heads prevail. May everyone act lawfully.
Herod could have said: I made a foolish promise. I can’t kill the holy man. Herod didn’t actually have any credibility to lose. He could have started building up a little, by admitting his mistake. He could have started to act as an honest man by saying: ‘I made a foolish promise. Better to admit that, and move on with law-abiding humility than to fulfill my promise and make the whole situation immeasurably worse.’