USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
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.
Good News Reflection:
Introductory prayer: Lord, help me to open my heart to you in this meditation. Grant me the grace to respond generously to your invitation to spread the kingdom. Grant me the courage I need to live a lifestyle that reveals my sincere commitment to you. Let me become more and more a living testimony to those around me of the extraordinary richness of life that you have given us in your kingdom. I ask this in your name. Amen.
Petition: Lord, grant me a greater degree of interior union with you in every moment of my daily life so as to be more truly a light and guide to my brothers and sisters in living the Christian life.
1. “He Whose Deeds Are Good Rejoices in the Light”.We always find it disturbing to consider the macabre end of John the Baptist. It seems humanity takes one of three stances toward the lights it is sent: enthusiastic acceptance, indifference, or opposition – even violent opposition. It is deeply unsettling to consider how often a humanity engulfed in spiritual darkness has rejected and even violently snuffed out those ‘lights’ which have been sent to it.
2. Staying on Our Message.When tragedy erupts amid our striving to be faithful disciples of Christ, we simply cannot walk away from our vocation. When persecution strikes, when our lives are stunned by sudden, unforeseen and inexplicablesetbacks, trials, and hardships, we have no other alternative: we must maintain forward momentum, we must continue the fight—this is the only way to holiness, Christ’s way—to the “Consummatum est!” (“It is accomplished!”) of the cross. If commitment to Christ is for real and for keeps, then come what may, we must be ready to remain faithful, to continue our Christian witness. Like John the Baptist, we must ‘stay on the message’, cost what may, and follow Christ where he leads us, even when he leads us to Calvary.
3. Called to Be a LightJohn’s disciples did not let his light go out. Prophetic figures create around them more prophetic figures. Each of us is called to be light in the world. Christ has put his hope in each one of you in a unique way. If only you could see his divine Heart …. You know he came to bring fire to the earth and he wants to kindle it everywhere, but know too that he has handed the torch to you. If you don’t act, the world will never blaze. There may even be some corner of the earth that will never receive the flame if one of you fails to get there, if you are unwilling to venture there. You are Christ’s hope, Christ’s fire, Christ’s hands. The cold, ignorant world is crying out to you, perhaps unawares, for the light and fire that you bear in your hearts. Take courage! Time is short and the world is big. Make the most of the sacrifice and recollection of your daily lives so that Christ will be everything for you and you won’t need anything else, because Christ is enough. Your one need will be to give him, lavish him on others with a sense of urgency like Saint Paul:“Caritas Christi urget nos”[“The love of Christ impels us” 2 Corinthians 5:14] (Letter of Father Marcial Maciel, LC, August 26, 1969).
Dialogue with Christ: Lord Jesus, today once again, I kneel before you to pledge that I will accept your request; I will embrace the mission of the new evangelization. With your grace, I will become more and more your untiring apostle-for my spouse , family, neighbors, parish and colleagues at work, for all those whom you place on my path in life. Amen.
Resolution: For love of Christ, I will make some concrete attempt to communicate the good news of Jesus to some person whom I happen to know is in need of the Christian message.
Fr. Marcial Maciel, LC