Saturday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Reading Leviticus 25:1,8-17
Gospel Matthew 14:1-12

"His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother."

On August 29, the Church celebrates the Passion of St. John the Baptist, and on that memorial we hear his passion narrative according to Saint Mark. Today’s Gospel Reading offers us this narrative according to St. Matthew the Evangelist.

Jesus does not appear in today’s Gospel passage. His name is mentioned twice. Focus on the latter instance, where His name is in fact the last word of the passage. This is fitting. In terms of the life and Passion of St. John the Baptist, Jesus is the last word.

John is often considered the last of the Old Testament prophets. Like many prophets, he was killed because of his witness to God’s Word. The uniqueness of John’s life and Passion lay in how they intertwined with those of the Word made Flesh.

You and I, as Christian disciples, have been baptized into the role of prophet. It is part of our baptismal commitment to profess the truth of the Gospel no matter what the cost to us. At times we profess this Truth through our actions; at other times, through our words. How often do we count the cost first before deciding whether to speak the Truth? It’s certainly necessary to exercise the virtue of prudence is proclaiming the Truth. But we need to ask St. John’s the Baptist’s intercession if we’re ever tempted to refrain from the Truth because of fear.