4th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Heb 13:1-8
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body. Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers. Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, I will never forsake you or abandon you. Thus we may say with confidence: The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me? Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Gospel: Mk 6:14-29
King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” Others were saying, “He is Elijah”; still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.” But when Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.” Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. His own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” Her mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
MAY WE BE FAITH-FILLED! In concluding the Letter to the Hebrews, the writer reminds us that faith is the key to achieve all that is possible in our Christian life. In the Gospel Reading, we meet Herod having contradictions that are not admissible among Christians. Herod mistakes Jesus for John the Baptist and the Gospel tells us his “relationship” with the latter. “for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly”. Herod represents a large chunk of Christians today especially our political leaders. Most of our political leaders and some of us are like Herod. We like admonitions and preachings but become very perplexed when we have to put them into practice. Do we live our lives in such a way that in our absence, people still remember us and desire to hear or see us?
PRAYER: Lord God, may our faith overcome our fears. Amen.
STAND WITH THE LORD: David could conquer his external enemies, Goliath or mighty nations, with ease. But he could not control his inner enemy and yielded to it with little resistance, and fell to the sin of adultery. He overcame his weakness through repentance, pleading and relying on the mercy of God whom he loved with his whole being. In the gospel, John the Baptist daringly proclaims God in front of King Herod openly condemning his immoral life, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” He knew well that his life was in danger. But he knew better that he was with God and God was with him. Herod and Herodias plotted against this holy man and eventually killed him. However, death could neither conquer him nor overcome the truth. May we be courageous people of truth.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us not to yield to the dancing of worldly attractions but to be your daring and credible witnesses.
***** BE NOT THE LAST ONE STANDING: “There is no greater fury than a woman scorned”, is a saying from the wise. The righteous, strong willed, holy John the Baptist spoke forthright, but had to pay with his life. The world would be poorer and less civil, but for people like John. His ideals and convictions take such a stronghold that nothing else is worthier. In the same world we sadly see the spineless, self-possessed Herod succumbing to his own pride. Herods are plenty in our times too; persons who cannot withstand the overpowering influence of evil. Persons who let themselves be enslaved in the grip of the evil one. Herod gives us the picture of a man who is striving to be good. Yet, his continuous co-habitation with vice engulfed in his ego, weakens his spirit and diminishes his ability to be good. He enters into the books of history, all for the wrong reasons. True leaders are meant to portray moral attitude. In our Church, may we raise the bar towards Christ’s values.