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Speaking to the Soul: Claiming the Body

Speaking to the Soul: Claiming the Body

Week of 3 Lent, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 119:97-120 (morning) // 81, 82 (evening)

Genesis 45:16-28

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Mark 6:13-29

It’s easy for the head of John the Baptist to attract all the attention in today’s gospel. When King Herod rashly promises his daughter anything she wishes, she tells him, at her mother’s urging, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” (Her mother suggested that she request only “The head of John the baptizer.” The platter seems to be the daughter’s added touch.)

Too embarrassed to go back on his word in front of his guests, Herod sends a soldier to retrieve John’s head. Dutifully, the soldier “went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother.” After a sudden execution, the head of John the Baptist is triumphantly presented to and passed among powerful, vengeful, and violent people.

But that isn’t the whole story. At the end of today’s gospel, we meet the faithful disciples who claim the body of their teacher and lay it to rest. As the passage tells us, “When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.” Behind the scenes, these disciples take the risk of claiming and caring for the faceless dead, for the victims of cowardly tyrants. These disciples treat with dignity the body that others considered disposable. By what acts of ministry today can we give care and rest to souls and bodies that would otherwise be discarded or unclaimed?

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with education, young adult ministry, and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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