JULY 31. Ord Time B. Wk 17. Sat. Mt 14. 1-12
Updated: Sep 10
Herod the tetrarch heard about the reputation of Jesus, and said to his court, ‘This is John the Baptist himself; he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.’
Now it was Herod who had arrested John, chained him up and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. For John had told him, ‘It is against the Law for you to have her.’ He had wanted to kill him but was afraid of the people, who regarded John as a prophet. Then, during the celebrations for Herod’s birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and so delighted Herod that he promised on oath to give her anything she asked. Prompted by her mother she said, ‘Give me John the Baptist’s head, here, on a dish.’ The king was distressed but, thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, he ordered it to be given her, and sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought in on a dish and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went off to tell Jesus.
“Of all the men born, there has never been greater than John the Baptist” is how John was described by the Son of God! There must be a message in this great person being beheaded; - in the same way there is a message in the Son of God being crucified.
That message is that mankind must endure suffering in reparation for sin; - and not just our own sins; - but the sins of others; - and we must do so for love of God!
And both of these men did this; - and they did it with a generous and loving heart; - motivated by Love!
What a wonderful, and simple message they both left us in generously accepting their sufferings; - because they saw it as the Will of God!
It is a message we understand well; - but we rarely view it in such a simple and humble way; - the need to generously embrace our trials and sufferings; - motivated by love of God!
Sadly, we spend an inordinate amount of time trying to escape our sufferings and trials; - and we do so as Christians; - people well aware of the love shown by Christ in embracing his Cross?
And we are even more aware of his invitation for us to follow him; - and to embrace our own Cross; - in reparation for our own sins, and the sins of others!
What we are witnessing in the death of John the Baptist is the same as what we are witnessing in the death of Jesus Christ; - the acceptance of sufferings, in all its forms, for Love of God!
And is this not at the heart of Christ’s message; - except he took it one step further; - in that he asks us to accept suffering; - not only out of Love of God; - but also Love of Neighbour!
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
‘If any man has a mind to come my way let him deny himself, take up his Cross and follow me!’
Gospel Acclamation Mt5:10
Happy are they who suffer persecution for justice’ sake:
the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
First reading Leviticus 25:1,8-17 The law of the jubilee year
The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai. He said:
‘You are to count seven weeks of years – seven times seven years, that is to say a period of seven weeks of years, forty-nine years. And on the tenth day of the seventh month you shall sound the trumpet; on the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout the land. You will declare this fiftieth year sacred and proclaim the liberation of all the inhabitants of the land. This is to be a jubilee for you; each of you will return to his ancestral home, each to his own clan. This fiftieth year is to be a jubilee year for you: you will not sow, you will not harvest the ungathered corn, you will not gather from the untrimmed vine. The jubilee is to be a holy thing to you, you will eat what comes from the fields.
‘In this year of jubilee each of you is to return to his ancestral home. If you buy or sell with your neighbour, let no one wrong his brother. If you buy from your neighbour, this must take into account the number of years since the jubilee: according to the number of productive years he will fix the price. The greater the number of years, the higher shall be the price demanded; the less the number of years, the greater the reduction; for what he is selling you is a certain number of harvests. Let none of you wrong his neighbour, but fear your God; I am the Lord your God.’