Stewards: Salome and her mother Herodias- bad stewards

By Charlie Osewalt | 22 August 2013

Stewars: Salome

Herodias, Salome’s mother – a bad steward

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. Matthew 14:13

What happened?  Jesus heard that his cousin, the person who baptised him, a prophet who spoke truth, and was imprisoned for his speaking, was dead. But John the Baptist didn’t just die; he was beheaded at the request of a sixteen year-old dancer who could have had anything, but under her mother Herodias’ direction, Salome demanded John’s head on a platter in payment for her dancing. Oh, and John’s “… head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.” That’s what happened.

The Gospels of both Matthew and Mark describe Jesus withdrawing after he hears the story of John’s death. I wonder what Jesus was thinking; how he was praying?

Was he praying for himself, knowing that he too was to die a horrible public death in 18 short months?

Was he thinking of Salome, a victim of abuse and power foreshadowing the 50,000 people – probably mostly men – in the UK today who are watching live Skype overseas transmissions of the sexual abuse of children? (BBC News 2 July)

Was he praying for victims who then in turn abuse their power to victimize others?

Was he emotionally spent and thinking and praying of nothing?

Was he deeply grieving and crying out in prayer to his Father?

Was he praying for mothers who have lost their children? And for mothers who have lost their way, like Herodias?

This past Sunday, Priscilla and I were in church in Kentish Town. We are the oldest couple in this church by far. Visiting parents of the young congregants invariably sit immediately by us. Like calls to like. After the service a twenty something young man, Alex, introduced his parents to me. (We had already met.) I said that they were “lovely.” He said, “I’ve raised them well.” Jane, his mum, caught my eye and we laughed together. She knew.

I said, “Alex, you are more on spot than you can possibly know:parents are always raised by children.”

We are raised by our cares for them. Their talents mirror our past dreams back to us; our dross, our impatience is reflected over and over in their personalities. We see the worst and the best of ourselves in them. Our images of self are raised by our children.

I believe Jesus was praying for parents as they steward their children. I like to think he was praying for Herodias, the mother who taught Salome how to dance. Perhaps the prayer that speaks so much of Jesus: Father forgive her, she does not know what she has done.

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Posted by Charlie Osewalt

Charles Osewalt is a husband, father of four children and former elder at Redeemer Church NYC. He has worked in schools for the last twenty years as principal in the Morrisanna section of the Bronx. He formerly worked as a content and curriculum specialist for Stewardship. He tweets at @charlesosewalt

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