Summary: Faith gave John the Baptist both perseverance and effectiveness.
Today Mark introduces us to one of the most corrupt men of his day, King Herod. This Herod, Herod Antipas, was one of the surviving sons of Herod the Great, the Idomenean who had tried to kill the infant Jesus three decades earlier. We could call him “Herod the Lesser,” because he was corrupt, but weak-willed. His unlawful wife, Herodias, however, was no wimp. She wanted Herod instead of Philip, and got him. But she got this irritating preacher, John, too, who in faith shone the light of truth on their adultery. So she used her own daughter to entice Herod into his rash vow, and thought she had silenced John the Baptist.
Ironically, the only reason we remember this woman, or her illegitimate husband, is in connection with John, who in any list of saints is in the second tier, right behind the Blessed Virgin. Of both of them we can say with John’s mother, “blessed is the one who has believed, that the word of God in their lives would be effective.” What is the proper object of faith? It is Truth, and ultimately it is not an “it” but a “he”–Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
The Popes tell us, “Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives. Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfilment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us. Faith, received from God as a supernatural gift, becomes a light for our way, guiding our journey through time. On the one hand, it is a light coming from the past, the light of the foundational memory of the life of Jesus which revealed his perfectly trustworthy love, a love capable of triumphing over death. Yet since Christ has risen and draws us beyond death, faith is also a light coming from the future and opening before us vast horizons which guide us beyond our isolated selves towards the breadth of communion. We come to see that faith does not dwell in shadow and gloom; it is a light for our darkness.” LF par 4