Daily Reflection – July 30, 2016
Saturday 30 July 2016
First Reading: Jeremiah 26:11-16, 24
Lord, in your great love, answer me
Psalm 68(69):15-16, 30-31, 33-34
Gospel Reading: Matthew 14:1-12
Today’s Note: Saturday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
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 discomfort of the Gospel.
Do you ever feel haunted by a past failure or a guilty conscience? King Herod, the most powerful and wealthy man in Judea, had everything he wanted, except a clear conscience and peace with God. Herod had respected and feared John the Baptist as a great prophet and servant of God. John, however did not fear to rebuke Herod for his adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife. He ended up in prison because of Herodias’ jealousy. Herod, out of impulse and a desire to please his family and friends, had John beheaded. Now his conscience is pricked when he hears that all the people are going to Jesus to hear his message of repentance and to see his mighty works. Herod is now haunted by the thought that the prophet he murdered might now be raised from the dead!
The death of John the Baptist is a difficult one. It speaks very clearly of martyrdom, and the cost of following Jesus. John lived his life in all humility, preaching the coming of Jesus, proclaiming himself not fit to tie the sandal of Jesus. The beauty in the suffering of John the Baptist in his life is only seen in our contemplation of heaven. Very often, our earthly lives can be plagued by suffering. Mother Teresa, who will be canonised this year, spent most of her ministry in a state of darkness, a sense of absence from God, and yet, she is considered one of the 20th century’s most extraordinary examples of God’s love. Perhaps sometimes the cup will seem too much, but let us ponder the fact that one day, we will be reunited with God in heaven.