Today’s Gospel reading evokes a scene reminiscent of the Old Testament, concluding with a violent and gruesome outcome. Herodius is overtaken with a desire to silence and punish John the Baptist for his exposure of her (and Philip’s) sin. Her desire for revenge is driven by denial and self-deception. Herodius’ opportunistic strategy includes the manipulation of her own daughter who has earned Herod’s favor and offered anything she desires. Herodius covets the reward due to her own daughter, thus exposing herself as self-serving, conniving, and blind to anyone and anything that does not serve her agenda. She is, in short, a slave to her own evil compulsions and attachments. The specific circumstances and the particularly severe and evil desires and actions notwithstanding, Herodius is one of us.
As Catholics, we are uniquely privileged and blessed to have a sacramental pathway out of our own self-deception and manipulative patterns. In Step Four, we take a fearless moral inventory of ourselves—what Catholics call an examination of conscience. In Step Five, we admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. This step is formalized in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where we acknowledge and confess our sins to another who is standing “in the person of Christ.” As we move through each one of the Twelve Steps, we are made ready for the next. We can confess the truth about our sins, transgressions, and character defects because a merciful God has been revealed to us and we have submitted to Him. The life of active addiction has a remedy available in the Twelve Steps that, combined with the spiritual practices and sacraments of our Catholic faith, better equip us to find an abundance of life in recovery.
- What remnants of denial, self-deception, and manipulation persist in your daily life of recovery?
- How has frequenting the Sacrament of Reconciliation impacted your spiritual journey and progress in recovery? Might God be inviting you to make this sacrament a more frequent staple in your life of recovery?
Daily Mass Readings
First Reading: Leviticus 25:1, 8-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 7-8
Gospel: Matthew 14:1-12
Reflection by Mark L.