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- July 12, 2015 -

The High Price of Regret

For Sunday, July 12, 2015 – Mark 6:14-29

When the disciples go out, two by two, carrying the light of God’s love and learning not to fear rejection, they are becoming themselves, strong in their own identities. How upsetting this is to the established realms of power in our lives. Going from village to village, giving and receiving, listening and healing, they show that Jesus, like Elijah and John the Baptist, is able to turn people’s hearts and minds toward a new kind of politics, a politics of solidarity and hope and empowered community. When he had John the Baptist murdered, King Herod thought he was rid of this threat of the people rising up, coming into their own, but now the specter of his guilt arises to convict him, and he concludes that John himself has been resurrected in Jesus.

Herod is a disturbingly sad example of someone drowning in regret, learning nothing from failure, refusing to be held accountable. So trapped is he in his need to be thought well of, to be seen as a firm ruler who will not be swayed, that he called for the beheading of John, not because he wanted it but because he feared losing face among his court. Losing face is easy when we don’t know our true face. Herod considered John to be a righteous man and allowed him to critique his life. Even though he was perplexed by John’s high moral standards, “he liked to listen to him.” Listening isn’t always enough. Herod’s lack of self-witness, not heeding his inner wisdom, makes him an easy mark for others, and it ends up getting John beheaded.

To fail to be our own person, to fail to listen and learn, and to fail to admit our wrongs, is to live forever displaced from the center of our lives. We end up haunted by fear, seeing the ghosts of our past everywhere we turn, in everyone we meet. No day is new. No encounter is fresh. All are tainted by the stain of regret, because we have never owned up to our mistakes and moved on. We have not yet learned to trust. Or are we afraid we will not be forgiven? With King Herod we wander, waving our scepters at one another yet afraid to claim our power. We “like to listen” to the words of God’s prophets, yet we keep bowing to other lords.

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