Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time (Ignatius of Loyola)
Gospel: Mt 14: 1-12
Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.
THE CONCEPT OF JUBILEE: The biblical jubilee was not just a cerebration of a period of time. It entailed justice in the matters of land. The cost of land was to be proportional to the productivity thereof. Doing any transaction against the principles of jubilee was considered corruption. In the gospel we see Herod being haunted by what he did to John when he hears about Jesus. Killing John did not take away the guilt from his heart even after he was free to marry his brother’s wife. What sets us free is not having a good name like jubilee or killing those who stand on our way to do evil but it is to do what is right and our hearts will find peace. Let us emulate our patron saints by following in their lives.
PRAYER: We pray for the grace to live according to the Christian precepts as our patron saints lived.
St. Ignatius of Loyola teaches us how to encounter God and pursue the path of holiness while engaging in our day-to-day activities. He came into radical faith after reading “The life of Christ” while lying sick almost at the point of death. Before an image of the Black Madonna at Santa Maria de Montserrat, he laid down his military garments and gave his other clothes away to a poor man. As a servant of Christ, Ignatius wanted to convert non-Christians. St. Ignatius became a powerful instrument of God for the spread of the Kingdom especially through “The Society of Jesus” which he founded. He tells his confreres and us, “Go and set the whole world on fire.”
TRUE PROPHETS: A prophet calls a spade, a spade. He speaks out the Word of God undeterred by the consequences. John the Baptist too spoke in certain terms to Herod. He too was aware of the consequences. Yet he dared confront authority. Nevertheless, those in power often suppress the dissenting voices. Opposition is perceived as a threat to their power. Herod does not want anybody to question his self-serving interests. He has power to shut out the opposing voices. Others join to collude with evil – Herodias and her daughter. Around the world in many countries the story of political killings, is re-enacted. A disappearance of the dissenting voices, is often linked to the political world. Different and strong opposing opinions are not easily palpable for religious authorities too. When one looks for truth and justice there is openness to different voices knowing that God speaks through them too.