That’s my 7-word summary of today’s Gospel reading. Today is the feast of the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, so the Gospel is the story of how Herodias used her daughter to trick Herod into executing John. When he promised the girl anything and she then asked for John’s head, I’m guessing that Herod knew very well that it wasn’t the right thing to do, and in truth, he really didn’t want to do it. But it seems he felt it was far worse to admit he made a mistake in his extravagant offer to the daughter of Herodias than to execute this man who disturbed him, yet at the same time intrigued him.
How do I compromise my values to save public face? I think our culture almost demands that we come across as “strong and confident”, even when we feel inadequate. The danger in this is that we can start to believe our own press. I’m thinking of the arrogance of some of our elected and appointed leaders in Washington, who make some terrible decisions with seemingly great confidence – where’s the humility?
I’ve found, with a lot of practice, that it’s not such a big deal to say, “I don’t know,” or “I made a mistake.” It’s really interesting when it happens in a classroom of new first-year students at university, who expect that professors must know everything and never make mistakes.