In today’s First Reading the Letter to the Hebrews encourages us to practice fraternal charity in a variety of situations. First, by practicing hospitality: making someone welcome. Whether they’re sent by the Lord or not, you are loving Our Lord through loving them. Second, by visiting those who at a low point in life: there’s no distinction between the guilty and those who got a bum rap when it comes to showing concern and kindness. Third, by honoring someone’s family as much as you honor them: not doing anything to break up a family, especially not for self-interest. Fourth, by not worrying about what you have and what you don’t: there’s no need to “keep up with the Jones,” just to trust Our Lord to help you with what you need.
Lastly, we need to consider everything our leaders have done for us. Authority can be a thankless job at times, and our leaders in the faith do so often making great sacrifices. Even leadership in the Church is a way of practicing fraternal charity. In following his advice we’re imitating Christ, who shows us that fraternal charity never goes out of fashion.
Herod in today’s Gospel failed in fraternal charity on so many levels, even though the Lord tried to reach him through John’s preaching. John may have been behind bars, but Herod’s prison was worse: he was trapped in doubt, immorality, distorted self-interest, and enslaved by his friends’ opinion of him. Let’s ask Our Lord today to help be more like John and less like Herod.