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Brotherly and Sisterly Love

Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

First Reading: Hebrews 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.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 27:1, 3, 5, 8B-9ABC

R. (1a) The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart will not fear;
Though war be waged upon me,
even then will I trust.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
For he will hide me in his abode
in the day of trouble;
He will conceal me in the shelter of his tent,
he will set me high upon a rock.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Gospel: Mark 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.

NAB

Let brotherly love continue.

What precious words of refreshment these are to our souls in this time. In the midst of such hatred and animosity that overwhelms the news and our Facebook feeds it is hard to maintain our peace. It feels impossible to fight against the tide all of the terrible things happening in the world. It feels as if hope is beyond our grasp.

Whenever this anxiety threatens to sweep me up, I know that I need to refocus on what I can change in my life right now. And inevitably the things I can change and do better are the very things mentioned in today’s reading from the Letter to the Hebrews. I can choose to love the people in my life right now. Maybe I know people in my life  who are imprisoned in their own sin, who need to feel love through hospitality? Or maybe I could throw a party for friends who need a little fun in their lives in the doldrums of February?

I know that I can focus more on my marriage. I can honor it through kind words, small thoughtful acts of service, maybe even a romantic evening in the marriage bed.

As always, I need to check myself when it comes to the value I put in money, possessions, and the idols I make of them. Cultivating contentment in the life I have is a daily practice that can make a world of difference to my own spiritual life, but also impacts my family and those around me.

I want to live in the confidence of knowing that the Lord will never forsake me, that Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And these small steps; offering hospitality, sharing in the struggles of those around us, focusing on our marriages or relationships/friendships, paying attention so that we are not slaves to money and possessions, are what help us live in that confidence. If we keep on keeping on, we can conquer the anxiety and hatred that covers our world with true brotherly love and the same peace with which Saint John the Baptist courageously faced his death.

What am I anxious about today? What small acts of love can I do in my life to counteract that anxiety? Lord, help us live in confidence that You are with us always and will never abandon us.

Christy Isinger is the mom to five lovely, loud children living in the Canadian wilds. You can find out more about her here.

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