February 3, 2012

It Came Down to a Dance

Salome with the Head of John the Baptist
 by Caravaggio
The story of the beheading of John the Baptist, the gospel reading for today, always bothers me. Mostly because it is gruesome, but also because of what it reveals about the character of Herod, character traits which I sometimes recognize in my own self.  Herod liked John, even though John's words were convicting. Yet, because of a dance, Herod bowed under pressure, not wanting to be embarassed in front of his guests or to be thought of poorly.  He could have stood up for what was right and perhpas, in time, John could have convinced him of his wrongs. But that didn't happen. He beheaded John and brought the head out on a platter.

Today we hear a similar story. Over the past few days, the Komen Foundation made the decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood.  A decision that did not go over well with many, but was applauded by those who are pro-life.  It seemed like a step in the right direction. Yet today, Komen bowed down to pressure.  They allowed Salome to perform her dance and they caved in to her wishes. They preferred not to be embarrassed by their decision or to risk the false accusations that they are forsaking the lives of women by not funding Planned Parenthood. But their decision ends the lives of millions of innocent children through abortion promoted by the very organization they say is saving lives. What would have happened if they didn't reverse their decision? Maybe other organizations would act out of their conscience instead of popular opinion.

How many times am I afraid to stand up for what I truly believe is right, even though it might cause me embarrassment, false accusations, or the favor of friendships? How many times to I just go with popular opinion because it's easier than fighting what sometimes seems like a loosing battle? I know this opinion is not going to be greeted well by some of my friends and acquaintances, but I have truth on my side, and Jesus who promised to be with me always.  He said, in the Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." Would I rather cave into pressure to not follow the truth? Do I want to dance with the Devil or do I want to be gathered into the eternal dance of the Trinity?  There's a lot to think about there.

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