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Friday – Fourth Week – OT1
Readings: Heb 13:1-8; Mk 6:14-29.
1/ Reading I: NAB Hebrews 13:1 Let mutual love continue. 2 Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. 3 Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers. 5 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.” 6 Thus we may say with confidence: “The Lord is my helper, (and) I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” 7 Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 6:14 King Herod heard about it, 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.” 15 Others were saying, “He is Elijah”; still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.” 16 But when Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.” 17 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. 18 John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. 20 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. 21 She 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. 22 Herodias’s 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.” 23 He even swore (many things) to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 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.” 26 The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. 27 So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. 28 He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, O.P.
I. THEME: We must faithfully live according to the truth.
For people who have no faith in God, they don’t believe in the absolute truth, all truths are relative for them—they are only true in certain time and environment. Therefore, they think that in order to be successful in life, they need to live according to changes of their time as a Vietnamese adage says, “Cover wherever the wind is.” But to those who have faith, Christ is the truth as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews said, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Moreover, the success in the world doesn’t guarantee the same success in the future. Therefore, to reach the ultimate goal of life, people can’t live according to time, but the truth.
Today readings gave examples of people who lived according to different lifestyles. In the first reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews advised the faithful to live according to the truth, what God commands them to do. The reason for this lifestyle is because Jesus was victorious over sins and death, the faithful are guaranteed to have an eternal life. In the Gospel, St. Mark reported the examples of those who didn’t live according to the truth, but only to please others such as: king Herode, queen Herodia and Salome, her daughter; while John Baptist lived and died for the truth.
1/ Reading I: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
After showed Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, who purified people’s sins by his blood and brings salvation for human beings, the author advised the faithful to keep seven following things:
(1) Live fraternal charity: “Let mutual love continue.” This is one of the two most basic commandments of the Catholic religion which are: “To love God and to love others.” St. John gave the reason why this commandment is necessary, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).
(2) Always have the spirit of hospitality: “Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.” In the Old Testament, God used the angels to announce good news for people: for Abraham and Sarah (Gen 18), for Sampson’s parents (Judg 13), and for Tobit (Tob 3:17). We never know if the ones we help are God’s angels.
(3) Console prisonners: “Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body.” This advise is proper with Pauline theology of the body: All of us are members of the one body, the Church, with Christ as the head.
(4) Practice chastity: “Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers.” The reason why all must practice chastity is because only the pure can see God (the sixth beatitude).
(5) Faithfully believe in God: “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?” St. Paul said, “He who did not spare His own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?” (Rom 8:32). God doesn’t give us a surplus because it causes more damages than benefits for us.
(6) Imitate the exemplars of faith in the past: “Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” The faithful have no lack of the exemplars of faith to imitate: Above all is Jesus, then our forefathers, prophets, holy men and women of all generation. Last of all are our parents, pastor, brothers and sisters who are our contemporaries.
(7) Don’t live according to the wrong principles of the world: The truth never changes as the author confimed, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
2/ Gospel: When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly.
2.1/ Herode’s family: When one studies the background of Herode’s family, one can see the devil’s influence upon this family. Herode the Great had 5 wives (Cleopatra of Jerusalem, Doris, Mariamne of Hasmonean, Mariamne of Boethusian, and Malthake). He killed his three sons: Antipater, a son with Doris; Alexander and Aristobulus, by Mariamne of Hasmomean. Some jokely said, “it is safe to be Herode’s dog than to be his sons.” The incest happened when Herodias, Aristobulus’ daughter, married Philip, her uncle; and wanted to marry with Herode Antipas, Philip’s brother, as reported by Mark in today passage. Another incest happened when Salome, Herodias’ daughter wanted to marry Philip, Cleopatra’s son.
2.2/ Different lifestyles:
(1) King Herode Antipas: was influenced by his father’s immoral and wicked life; he didn’t respect the truth. He had sent soldiers to seize John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. For John said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” His wavering attitude to the truth was described by Mark: “When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly.”
An opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee.When Herodias’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it.”He vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.”She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the baptizer.”And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. The king immediately sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head.
(2) Herodia and Salome: lived and witnessed against the truth. Herodia was angry with John Baptist because he prevented her to marry Herode Antipas. She tried to find a way to get rid of him. When the opportunity came, she wasn’t hesitated and ordered Salome, her daughter, to ask for his head on a platter.
(3) John Baptist: always lived and witnessed for the truth. He didn’t pay attention to material gains, fame or power; but he courageously lived a simple life and spent all of his time to fulfill his mission.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must faithfully live according to the truth. A life according to changes of the world shall never bring us to the ultimate goal of our life.
– We may pay a dearly price to live according to the truth, but it shall bring us joy and help us to unite with God and all the witnesses of the truth.