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The death of John the Baptist

Gospel Reading: Mt 14:1-12
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.

It is not lawful for you to have her.

John the Baptist loses his head for saying this. He is meddling in the affairs of Herod, the most powerful man in the province of Galilee. Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, has long begrudged John for declaring his objection to their unlawful relationship and waited for the right time.

John the Baptist is just doing his job as a prophet. He boldly points out their mistake, a violation of God’s sixth commandment.

Now Herod makes another big mistake. In his birthday party, after the daughter of Herodias performs a dance to entertain the distinguished visitors, he makes a promise that he cannot take back. The birthday celebration thus turns into a horror story.

Mistake after mistake happens when we do not listen to God. Our lives, both private and public, are endangered when we heed our pride, hurt, and desire for vengeance. We commit the same mistakes when we have no time to reflect and pray, when we are more concerned about entertaining and gratifying people than about pleasing God.

We are here to please God by obeying his commands and by being more prudent.

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.