"His disciples came and took away John the Baptist's corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus." Mt 14:12
The beheading of John the Baptist is always a difficult story to read. While the text does not speak of alcohol directly, it is not difficult for anyone who has been around people who drink too much to imagine Herod's drunkenness leading to a promise he cannot break. When his daughter, at her mother's prompting, asks for John's head on a platter, Herod has no choice but to accept her request. Alcohol got him in trouble and his pride made it worse. Too drunk to think clearly, he gives into his wife's rage and orders John's murder.
Anyone who has lived in an alcoholic family has stories like this, and while most of them do not involve murder, too many know the horrors of alcohol abuse. Wives and children have been beaten and families have disintegrated because of alcoholic drinking. Worse, many families endure abusive drinking in their homes because they think the gospel demands their fidelity to the struggling alcoholic, or they feel trapped in a situation from which they do not see another path, and their decision to stay often sets patterns that the next generation find impossible to break.
One wonders what the disciples of John were thinking after they buried John and told Jesus of their master's death. Did they hope Jesus would retaliate? Were they afraid for their own lives? Did they imagine Jesus raising John from the dead?
Most of us skirt the obvious. Alcoholic drinking will eventually kill the body of the drinker and the spirits of the alcoholic's family.
Today, pray for alcoholic families.
What do you do in the face of addiction?