First Reading: Leviticus 25:1, 8-17
The LORD said to Moses on Mount Sinai, “And you shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall be to you forty-nine years. Then you shall send abroad the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall send abroad the trumpet throughout all your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be to you; in it you shall neither sow, nor reap what grows of itself, nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat what it yields out of the field. “In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property. And if you sell to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not wrong one another. According to the number of years after the jubilee, you shall buy from your neighbor, and according to the number of years for crops he shall sell to you. If the years are many you shall increase the price, and if the years are few you shall diminish the price, for it is the number of the crops that he is selling to you. You shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the LORD your God.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 7-8
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, [Selah] that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving power among all nations. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for thou dost judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. [Selah] The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us. God has blessed us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!
Gospel: Matthew 14:1-12
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus; and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist, he has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.” For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison, for the sake of Hero’di-as, his brother Philip’s wife; because John said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Hero’di-as danced before the company, and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” And the king was sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came and took the body and buried it; and they went and told Jesus.
The reading of the beheading of Saint John the Baptist has never been one of my favorites. Let’s face it: it’s not the most uplifting passage. So this morning as I was trying to think of something positive, what kept coming to mind is John’s fearlessness and Herod’s cowardice.
I have always been in awe of John’s persona. He didn’t shy away from preaching about God. His call to repentance was aimed at all people, even those who could do him harm. In the end, John gave his life for the love of God.
Herod saw this. He feared and loathed John because he made him face his sins and exposed his cowardice. Although Herod wanted to put John to death, he feared John’s followers. Later when Herodias’ daughter asked for John’s head, Herod regretted his oath but he feared upsetting his guests who commanded that he follow through. So he had John beheaded.
How are we living our lives?
Are we like Herod, not wanting to face our sins and in fear of what people will think of us? Or are we like John, a fearless preacher of the Gospel, willing to die for God?
To be honest, I’m somewhere in-between. I love God and our faith and try to live my life accordingly but I also struggle to face my sins and weaknesses. It’s not always easy for me to be bold in living the Gospel.
More than likely, we will not be called to martyrdom as John was but God gives us plenty of opportunities die to self and not stand silent. For me, it could be the mere act of going out in public with my kids and enduring “the looks” and comments. Sometimes it’s explaining to a friend that I can’t just skip Sunday Mass to attend an all-day event. Or telling school acquaintances that I won’t join them to watch the latest hot guys stripper movie and why. Or it’s speaking up when in a situation of gossiping about husbands, coworkers, or the parish priest.
It is much easier to just be quiet or to excuse ourselves discreetly. However, the Holy Spirit will often nudge us to open our mouth and correct the situation or share our beliefs as lovingly as we can. Your voice and actions may be the only glimpse of the Gospel a person receives this day. Don’t be afraid to be that voice in the wilderness.
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Today, open your heart to the Holy Spirit. Invite him to move you when you need to speak and trust that he will put the words in your mouth.
Bobbi Rol is a wife, mom and blogger with a teen daughter, three rambunctious little boys, and two babies in heaven. She lives in California with her husband, Brian. You can find out more about her here.