SATURDAY, SEVENTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Memorial of St Ignatius of Loyola, Priest & Founder of Society of Jesus (Jesuits)
Lev 25:1,8-17; Ps 67:2-3,5,7-8; Mt 14:1-12
A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATED WITH 2 MURDERS
During his brief public ministry, Jesus went through many bitter experiences. As a child, he was hounded by Herod the Great, who was a great builder, but not a great character; he desired to kill the divine child only because the wise men from the east came to worship him, and not Herod himself. One of his three sons was the Herod, whom we encounter in today’s gospel. This Herod was living in adultery, with his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias. John the Baptist dared to tell Herod that it was not lawful for him to live with his brother’s wife. Herodias was furious with the Baptist, and had him thrown into prison. Jesus knew about this. Moreover, John, from his prison, sent two disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one, we are waiting for?” Was John undergoing a severe crisis in the gloom and privation of his ordeal? It is more likely that John only wanted to remind Jesus that he, who had prepared the way for him, was in prison. Jesus, however, did not work some miracle to free John.
Meanwhile, Herod’s birthday drew near. Herod threw a splendid banquet for his courtiers and officials. The celebrations came to a peak when the daughter of Herodias gave a dance performance that enthralled Herod and his guests. He was so impressed with Salome that he declared he was ready to give her anything she wanted, there and then. Herod repeatedly swore he would give her even half his kingdom if she so desired. Bewildered and overwhelmed, the girl runs to her mother: “What shall I ask?” Constantly carrying with her at all times that bitter resentment against John for pointing out her adulterous life, her mother shakes her head, as though to say: “Nothing for you, my daughter. Today is my day; my lover’s birthday. Nothing other must you ask than the head of John the Baptist.” And at that instant, along with the Baptist, was murdered the conscience of Salome.
Response: Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
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