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Faith Daily |31 July 2021


O God, the protector of all that trust in you,

without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:

increase and multiply upon us your mercy,

that, with you as our ruler and guide,

we may so pass through things temporal

that we finally lose not the things eternal.

Grant this, O heavenly Father,

for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord.


GOSPEL for the Day: Matthew 14: 1-12

At that time Herod the ruler heard reports about Jesus; 2and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 3For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4because John had been telling him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet. 6But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod 7so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. 8Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” 9The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; 10he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. 11The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. 12His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.

GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by: Hilary Bell

This gruesome account of the beheading of John the Baptist comes as a shock after we have been following Jesus healing and teaching through parables in the towns of Galilee. Imagine the impact of this news on Jesus and his disciples.

Yet there are links and foreshadowing of what is to come. John was imprisoned then executed in a dreadful way, because by speaking the truth he made an enemy of the spiteful Herodias, wife of Herod Antipas. In calling for people to repent, the prophet confronted people with their sinfulness, never a popularity stakes winner.

Jesus taught of God’s infinite love and mercy for all who seek forgiveness. His words threatened the Pharisees, teachers of the Law and others in positions of authority who plotted to have him killed by crucifixion.

I reflect that Herod, tetrarch and a son of Herod the Great, inherited wealth and power. Privilege gave him a taste for luxury and getting what he wanted. Yet he became a victim of his own vanity, wanting to show largesse, entrapped by a need to be popular, a need to save face and not be seen as someone who reneges on promises, vulnerable to the hatred expressed by his wife towards John, their accuser. On the one hand Herod is a ruthless ruler, on the other a man fearful, superstitious, even haunted by guilt.

I examine my own actions and motivations. Have I sometimes been caught up in the emotions of the moment, swayed by the crowd, taking an easier path when reason, justice and morality dictate a different path? Am I influenced by the opinions I think others will have of me? I reflect on the times I regret not speaking out. Can I admit when I am wrong?

FINAL PRAYER: (David Adams)

Help us Lord,

To live in your light

To act in your might

To think in your wisdom

To walk in your kingdom

To abide in your love

Your presence to prove. Amen.

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