By Dr. Dan Wuori
Have you ever been asked to do something (or maybe even just go along with something) that you know, deep inside, is the wrong thing to do?
Sometimes those things happen to us all. I know that when I was your age there were even a few times that I got myself into trouble for doing things that if I’d really thought through, I probably would have decided against. The problem always was: my friends were doing them too – and I’d been too afraid for some reason to tell them “no.”
That can be awfully tough, can’t it? When you see your friends doing something that’s maybe against the rules – or doing something dangerous, or wrong? It seemed like whenever those things happened, I’d try to explain it to my parents by saying that “everyone else was doing it” or “he told me to!” And they always told me the same thing: The choices we make are ours – and so we have to take personal responsibility. To be responsible means that – no matter what – you’re in charge of making your own decisions.
This week’s gospel story is one of the most unusual we’ve had to talk about. Instead of a story about Jesus and the lessons he taught us, this week’s story is about a King (King Herod). And unlike so many of the gospel stories that make us feel good inside, this is a very sad story. It’s one of the most horrible in the entire Bible.
King Herod is having a birthday party – and during the party his daughter does a dance so beautiful that he tells her he’ll grant her a wish. Whatever she wants, she can have. And here’s where the story becomes so hard to hear. She tells him that she wants him to do something very wrong – to kill a man.
And now Herod has a choice. He’s made her a promise to grant her wish, but what she asks for is something terrible.
What would you have told her? (Solicit children’s answers.)
I agree. I think that I would have to break the promise rather than do such an awful thing. But Herod makes another choice. He sends his guards to kill the man, just so he can keep his promise. It’s a sad story – one so sad that even many grownups wonder what can be learned from it.
I’ve thought a lot about that this week – and decided that for me, this story is a reminder that we are sometimes asked to make choices that we just know would be wrong – and how important it is to have the strength and the courage to say no. Even when taking responsibility is a hard thing to do.
Only you can make those choices. So next time you’re asked, will you do a better job than Herod and remember that you’re responsible for the things you do?
Good. Let’s pray.
Sometimes we are faced with such hard choices. Fill us with the wisdom and strength we need to live our lives in a way that you may find pleasing.
Copyright 2009, Dr. Dan Wuori. Used by permission.