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Homilies :: Latin Rite
Saturday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time Download This Homily

August 3, 2019

Saturday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time

 

Leviticus 25:1, 8-17 ;

Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 7-8;

Gospel  Mt 14: 1-12

 

Gospel Reading

 

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.

 

Reflection


Beheading of John the Baptist

 

Today we have an apparently sad incident for our reflection – the beheading John the Baptist. There are mainly four characters in the story as it unfolds: John the Baptist, Herod, Herodias, and Salome. The imprisonment of John happened just at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. He was the fore runner, the path maker. As Jesus enters the scene he realizes his duty and mission are going to be over. So we see him sending his disciples to Jesus with questions (Mt 11: 1-3). Later he is killed.

 

The first character here is John the Baptist. He was a prophet true to his name. He called people for repentance. His preaching was clear and sharp. In no uncertain terms he declared that unless they repented they would perish. He called for immediate repentance to prepare them for the coming of the Kingdom of God. He could arouse immediacy about the arrival of Kingdom of God. It kindled the hopes of people about the Messiah.

 

Herod the King had to bear the anger of John, because he was leading a sinful life, marrying Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. It was an adulterous relationship because Philip was still living. More over it is said she was his niece making the relationship incest too.

 

Herod Antipas the King was in no mood to repent. He was the son of Herod the great. He was known to be a man of many weaknesses. Of all his weaknesses he was known for his moral weakness. He was ready to do any unlawful act to satisfy his carnal pleasures without any prick of conscience. He was ready to please his consort and to do any wily act fearing her displeasure. He was led by the evil plans and desires of Herodias. History tells us that she eventually led him to his ruin. Josephus the Jewish historian writes that, ‘Herodias later prompted him to join her in appealing for favors from Caesar. But they were accused of high treason and banished to Lyons in Gaul, where he died in great misery’.

 

Herodias is an example to what extent shamelessness and vengeance can reach. Philip was the half brother of Herod Antipas. Herodias was his wife. Herod was married to the daughter of an Arabian King Aretas. While visiting Philip, Herod and Herodias eloped and later got married. John rebuked both Herod and Herodias for their unlawful marriage. His rebuke was unbearable for Herodias. She was vengeful and waiting for a chance to kill John.

 

In Salome we see the extremes of shamelessness. Her dance was nothing but a shameful exhibition of lewdness. She appears to be a girl of no propriety in behaving. She dances lewdly in front of the male guests of the king to please him and the guests. She asks for the head of John in a platter according to the demands of her mother.

 

Moral weaknesses can lead us to total destruction. The more we try to satisfy our carnal desires the more will be the demands of the body. As we get immersed in it we lose the sense of shame. We forget the rules, we lose the commonsense, and we indulge in all unlawful activities. As in the case of Herodias, hatred and vengefulness prompt us to do even graver sins leading sometimes to killing of others. These things repeat even today around us. What happened in the court of Herod two thousand years back repeats today in different form in court rooms and palaces, in mansions and huts, in offices and private rooms. Vengeance of rulers leads nations to the war fronts. Lewdness and lax moral behavior destroy the career and life of many youngsters. Unbridled passion and illicit relationships destroy the sanctity of family life.

 

The story of the beheading of John the Baptist calls us to evaluate our moral standards. How well am I prepared to face the challenges of the Kingdom. Do I have the values necessary for the Kingdom. If I am wayward, am I ready to come back to the fold of the Lord, repenting. Or am I stubborn in my sinfulness?

 

Dr. Martin Mallathu CMI

 


Homilies Navchetana Apps, the first of its kind is produced and published by Navchetana Communications, Bhopal, India to assist the clergy to preach the World of God and also as a handy spiritual resource for the people of God to reflect on the daily spiritual passages at their convenience. You can download this on your Android phone from Google play and you can see the Gospel reflections of the whole year. The size of this app is just 2.5 MB. We welcome your suggestions and contributions to server you better.

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Fr. James M L CMI

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Homilies Navchetana is an initiative of Navchetana Communications, Bhopal, India. We have been sending the Sunday and daily homilies last four years. We are grateful to you for your cooperation and encouraging comments. Navchetana is committed to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ through modern media and performing arts. Through our Web TV, audio and video productions and stage programmes we take the Gospel message to the ends of the earth. Make a donation and be a part of this noble mission.


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