The Gospel Today
Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
King Herod heard about Jesus, 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.”
Others were saying, “He is Elijah”;
still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.”
But when Herod learned of it, he said,
“It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”
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.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
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.
Herodias 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.
His 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.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
Her mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
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.”
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner
with orders to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter
and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
Reflection (Sem. Eldrick Peña):
In the Gospel, John the Baptist was beheaded as a consequence of his standing for the truth and for Jesus. Like John the Baptist, anyone who wishes to follow Jesus has to bear his own cross of suffering. Standing for the singular Truth, which is Christ himself, is not just an action, but a decision – a disposition one should always have. To follow Jesus is to always be with Jesus no matter what the cost, and no matter how difficult it is.
In my almost two-year stay in the seminary, I could say that I have encountered so many trials and difficulties to the point that I already wanted to give up. But the thought that Jesus suffered and endured more than I have endured, and that He is always beside me to lighten up my yoke, kept me strong and holding on to my vocation to the priesthood.
I am always challenged by my love for Christ to ever deepen and strengthen my relationship with Him through prayer and by my service to others, especially the poor. I commit to stand for Jesus – Master, way, truth and life!
What are you willing to sacrifice for the TRUTH?