At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus, and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus. Matthew 14:1-12
I grew up in a town where many of my classmates could have anything and everything they wanted. One of my friends mom was a famous actress, another classmate was driven to school in a limo. These same kids had high end brand new vehicles as soon as, or even before they could legally drive. Some went to the alps skiing for winter break or to some exclusive island where they had a home. As a clergy kid, living in hand-me-downs and doing our own lawn, I found in the long run, I was rarely truly jealous. They were just as miserable as all the other kids I knew, and rarely interacted with their all too busy parents. Of course it would have been nice to have the things they had, but I had a family and a faith community and was never alone.
We hear the story of the beheading of John the Baptist. A very spoiled woman was furious because of the the truth John was telling. A selfish mother, she had her daughter dance to please the king and then, ask for her own prize. She neither danced nor thought of anyone but herself. And because of her selfish fury, John lost his head, and was ridiculed as his head was paraded around in front of a room full of wealthy drunks. We humans can be ever so cruel and ever so selfish. And money and possessions can give us the ability to destroy others. God moves in the midst of cruelty and jealousy, in times of betrayal and abuse. God has no heart for those who would put wealth and position over another life. And God stands with the betrayed and the bereaved, the selfless and the sacrificing.
Today, may we all determine to act selflessly, no matter how big our need, no matter how large our desires. God can and will move in a compassionate heart and more is gained by acting in kindness and tenderness than was ever won by gold, beauty or selfishness. All that selfishness wins is temporary. Love is eternal and God, who is love, inhabits hearts of love and takes residence with those who will selflessly live for others.