Scripture: Lectionary for Aug. 4 #406. Jeremiah 26:11-16.24. Psalm 69:15-16.30-31.33-34. Matthew 14:1-12:
Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and Jesus are central to our readings today. They serve as great models for our journey in and to the Kingdom of God as Matthew’s parables keep pointing out. We have finished the third discourse on the parables of the kingdom and move on to the fourth part of Matthew beginning with chapter 14. The Kingdom continues to develop through the formation of the disciples and we enter the discourse on the community of the faithful followers of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel.
Jeremiah’s threat of death is mentioned again, however, his fidelity to God’s word about repentance and the shedding of innocent blood give his opponents a reason for changing the threat. He survives once again to preach the word of God as a courageous prophet.
In the Gospel narrative we return to the historical events in Jesus’ life. His impact is so great that Herod thinks that John the Baptist has risen from the dead. Is his conscience bothering him? The story so fully developed by Mark about the beheading of the Baptist and the reasons for it are now shortened by Matthew, but it is clear he has relied on Mark—as he always does! Terrible, fearful, and frightening thoughts bother Herod who was to weak willed to resist the request of Herodias his unlawful wife. Her revengeful wish brings about the martyrdom of John the Baptist.
Even though we are long past the events in history that are recorded for us by Matthew, the memory and influence of John the Baptist and Jesus continue on through our own history of salvation. Jeremiah lives on through his great words and prophesies. They inspire us to keep ourselves in the presence of God with them as we pray today. We
intercede for their help before the throne of God. We are part of the living and saving history of God that goes on despite our lives of failure and sin. Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever.
All three of our holy ones suffered death threats from the people and the leaders. All three challenge us with their words to reform our lives in the here and now and to become like them creative agents of God’s redeeming love and mercy. As we recall their place in history and their place in our lives today, we realize that we can be one with them through prayer and through carrying out God’s will as they did, day in and day out. Like them we deepen our relationship with God, we become courageous against the world, the flesh, and the Evil One. We may face trials, sufferings, and opposition, but we carry on because we believe all three conquered death and are now celebrating life in the presence of God. Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.
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