Jeremiah needed the help of Ahikam. How much more do we need that of God?AGAINST THE PELAGIANS 2.27. Wenthe, D. O. (Ed.). (2009). Jeremiah, Lamentations (p. 192). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
THEODORE OF HERACLEA:
Thinking that the Baptist had risen from the dead, Herod began to be afraid of him, as though John had become all the more powerful. He was alarmed lest John should employ against him even more of his caustic freedom of speech, which was a terror to him, frustrating him by revealing his crooked deeds.FRAGMENT 93. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2002). Matthew 14-28 (p. 2). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Do you see the intensity of his fear? Herod did not dare speak of it openly, but he still speaks apprehensively to his own servants. Yet this whole opinion was absurd. It savored of the jittery soldier. Even though many were thought to have risen from the dead, no one had done anything like what was imagined of John. Herod’s words seem to me to be the language both of vanity and of fear. For such is the nature of unreasonable souls; they often accept a mixture of opposite passions.THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 48.2. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2002). Matthew 14-28 (pp. 2–3). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
John aroused Herod by his moral admonitions, not by any formal accusation. He wanted to correct, not to suppress. Herod, however, preferred to suppress rather than be reconciled. To those who are held captive, the freedom of the one innocent of wrongdoing becomes hateful. Virtue is undesirable to those who are immoral; holiness is abhorrent to those who are impious; chastity is an enemy to those who are impure; integrity is a hardship for those who are corrupt; frugality runs counter to those who are self-indulgent; mercy is intolerable to those who are cruel, as is loving-kindness to those who are pitiless and justice to those who are unjust. The Evangelist indicates this when he says, “John said to him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have the wife of your brother Philip.’ ” This is where John runs into trouble. He who admonishes those who are evil gives offense. He who repudiates wrongdoers runs into trouble. John was saying what was proper of the law, what was proper of justice, what was proper of salvation and what was proper certainly not of hatred but of love. And look at the reward he received from the ungodly for his loving concern!SERMONS 127.6-7. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2002). Matthew 14-28 (pp. 3–4). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
“And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people.” That person readily turns away from justice who, in matters at issue, fears not God but people. Such fear can restrain the power to sin but is unable to remove the will to sin. Hence, those whom it has restrained from crime, it makes all the more eager to return to crime. It is only the fear of God that can set minds straight, repel criminal actions, preserve innocence and give steadfast power. But let us focus on the passionate intensity of blessed John.SERMONS 127.7. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2002). Matthew 14-28 (p. 4). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
You have heard, brothers, that sensual pleasure may give birth to great cruelty. “And his head was brought on a platter.” The house is converted into an arena, the table changes into a stall at the amphitheater, the birthday guests turn into spectators, the feast grows into a furor, the food ripens into carnage, the wine transforms into blood, the birthday changes into a funeral, sunrise evolves into sunset, the banquet is altered into a bloody killing, and musical instruments perform the tragedy of the ages. A creature enters the room, not a girl; a lynx, not a maiden, moves to the music. She has the mane of an animal, not hair, sprouting up from the crown of her head. She spreads out her limbs with twists and turns; she steadily grows in ferocity. She becomes cunning in cruelty, not in body. And this extraordinarily wild animal lets out a growl. She gnashes her teeth. She does not take up a sword but produces one. “Prompted by her mother,” the Evangelist says, and taking an arrow from her mother’s heart, this uncanny creature, with contempt for the prize of John’s body, slithers through the hall to have his head cut off.SERMONS 127.9. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2002). Matthew 14-28 (p. 4). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
HILARY OF POITIERS:
Shortly before, Herod indicated that he wanted to kill John. He hesitated for fear of the people, because they considered him to be a prophet. But now, upon the request for John’s death, since Herod was bound formally by the ritual of an oath, how is it that he suddenly becomes sorry? His former willingness is incompatible with his present unwillingness, and the annoyance he now feels is contrary to what he felt before. Previously there was an orderly sequence to what transpired, but now the situation has gotten out of hand. Sensual pleasure springing up from infidelity has seized the glory of the law. But the people, aware of the good things in the law, wink at the pleasurable circumstances not without misgivings as to their own peril. They know it is inappropriate for them to turn away from the glory of the commandments. Yet four factors cause them to give in to sin: an oath, fear of the leaders, the allurements of pleasure and a bad example.ON MATTHEW 14.8. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2002). Matthew 14-28 (pp. 4–5). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
HILARY OF POITIERS:
Amid the other enjoyments of the profligate company, the head of John is brought on a platter. Thus the pleasures of the body and worldly extravagance reach the point where the girl carries the head to her mother. And so shameful Israel surrenders the glory of the law to the pleasure and infidelity of its Herodian household, who were formerly Gentiles. Now that the time of the law is over and buried with John, his disciples announce to the Lord the events that transpired, as they leave the law and come to the Gospels.ON MATTHEW 14.8. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2002). Matthew 14-28 (p. 5). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.