Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (14: 1-12) which tells how Herod had heard about the reputation of Jesus and likened him to John the Baptist, who Herod had recently beheaded.In today’s Gospel, Fr Paul notes, we hear of the murder of John the Baptist and we hear that Matthew, the writer, is harder on Herod than the other Gospel writers.  Gone is the questioning of who Jesus might be. Herod is quite clear that Jesus’ works of power are simply a repeat of those of John the Baptist. It is Herod, himself, who wanted to kill John, not his wife.  It is Herod who knows that John was popularly considered a prophet. So, the Gospel writer is painting Herod as the villain, even though the dancing daughter is egged on by her mother. Herod still clings to the excuse that he has given the girl his oath and so, we hear of John the Baptist’s death. Fr Paul says, in this Gospel, Herod becomes the model of refusal when it comes to recognising the significance of Jesus.