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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Friday 4th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Sir 47:2-13): Like the choice fat of the sacred offerings, so was David in Israel. He made sport of lions as though they were kids, and of bears, like lambs of the flock. As a youth he slew the giant and wiped out the people’s disgrace, when his hand let fly the slingstone that crushed the pride of Goliath. Since he called upon the Most High God, who gave strength to his right arm to defeat the skilled warrior and raise up the might of his people, therefore the women sang his praises, and ascribed to him tens of thousands and praised him when they blessed the Lord.

When he assumed the royal crown, he battled and subdued the enemy on every side. He destroyed the hostile Philistines and shattered their power till our own day. With his every deed he offered thanks to God Most High, in words of praise. With his whole being he loved his Maker and daily had his praises sung; he set singers before the altar and by their voices he made sweet melodies, he added beauty to the feasts and solemnized the seasons of each year so that when the Holy Name was praised, before daybreak the sanctuary would resound. The Lord forgave him his sins and exalted his strength forever; he conferred on him the rights of royalty and established his throne in Israel.
Responsorial Psalm: 17
R/. Blessed be God my salvation!
God’s way is unerring, the promise of the Lord is fire-tried; he is a shield to all who take refuge in him.

The Lord live! And blessed be my Rock! Extolled be God my savior. Therefore will I proclaim you, o Lord, among the nations, and I will sing praise to your name.

You who gave great victories to your king and showed kindness to your anointed, to David and his posterity forever.
Versicle before the Gospel (Cf. Lk 8:15): Alleluia. Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart, and yield a harvest through perseverance. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mk 6,14-29): King Herod also heard about Jesus because his name had become well-known. Some people said, «John the Baptist has been raised from the dead and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him». Others thought, «He is Eli­jah», and others, «He is a pro­phet like the pro­phets of times past». When Herod was told of this, he thought: «I had John beheaded, yet he has risen from the dead!». For this is what had happened. Herod had ordered John to be arrested and had him bound and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod had married her and John had told him, «It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife». So Herodias held a grudge against John and wanted to kill him, but she could not be­cause Herod respected John. He knew John to be an upright and holy man and kept him safe. And he liked listening to him, although he became very disturbed whenever he heard him.

Herodias had her chance on Herod's birthday, when he gave a dinner for all the senior government officials, military chiefs and the leaders of Gali­­lee. On that occasion the daughter of Herodias came in and danced; and she delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, «Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you». And she went so far as to say with many oaths, «I will give you anything you ask, even half my king­dom». She went out to consult her mother, «What shall I ask for?». The mother replied, «The head of John the Baptist». The girl hurried to the king and made her request: «I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish». The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of the bodyguards with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother. When John's disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.

«King Herod also heard about Jesus because his name had become well-known»

Fr. Ferran BLASI i Birbe (Barcelona, Spain)

Today, in Mark's passage we are told about Jesus' reputation —known by his teachings and miracles. His fame was such some were saying He actually was John the Baptist, Jesus' relative and precursor, who had resurrected from the dead. This is what Herod, who had ordered John's death, also thought. But this Jesus was much more than the other men of God: much more than John; much more than any of the prophets who spoke in the name of the Almighty: He was the Son of God, become Man, Perfect God and Perfect Man. This Jesus —present amongst us—, as a man, can understand us and, as God can grant us all we need.

John, the precursor, who had been sent by God before Jesus, with his martyrdom also preceded Jesus in His passion and death. It had also been an unfair death inflicted to a man who was a saint, by Herod, the tetrarch, possibly against his own will, because he respected him and liked to listen to him. Though, John was clear and firm with the king when John criticized his behavior deserving vituperation, because it was not licit to have married Herodias, his brother's sister.

Herod had accepted Herodias' daughter request, induced by her mother, when, at a banquet —after a dance that had delighted the king— he had promised her with many oaths, in front of his guests, to give her what she would ask. «What shall I ask for?», she told her mother, who replied: «The head of John the Baptist» (Mk 6:24). And the petty kinglet had the Baptist beheaded. It was certainly an oath that did not oblige him in any way, as it was an evil thing, against any justice and any conscience.

Experience teaches us, once more, that each virtue has to be always joined to all the others, and all together have to grow organically like the fingers of the hand. And, by the same token, when one incurs in some vice, soon others will follow.

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