Saturday of the 17th Week of the Year

Matt 14:1-12

The Death of John the Baptist


How do we deal with a bad conscience? Run from it? Or face it and come to terms with it? As we see the glitter that surrounds the lives of so many of the rich and powerful, we might wonder whether it is all a desperate effort to ignore the evils for which have been responsible.

Look at Herod, surrounded by a host of self-serving flatterers. He knew that John told him the truth when he said that it was not right to marry the wife of his brother. But he avoids it by locking John up. To be fair to him, he probably had no plan to kill John. But once he is caught up in the web of pride, intrigue and saving face, all courage is lost and terrible command is given.

Are there truths about ourselves that we are not facing? If so, have we any guarantee that they won’t drag us deeper into the pit of despair and betrayal? We may not like what they tell us, but let us pray for the courage to listen to the John the Baptist whom the Lord sends to us. (Fr. John O’Mahony, SVD Bible Diary 2002)


In Ecuador, there is a Spanish saying that goes: “Se liena la boca dced piedra?” (literally, the mouth is full of stone!)

In today’s gospel account there were three people responsible for the death of John the Baptist: Herodias, her daughter and Herod. During his birthday celebration, Herod was so delighted  with the dance performed by Herodias’ daughter that he swore to give her whatever she wanted. Herodias (who may have kept a grudge against John who pointed the immorality of her relationship with Herod) prompted her daughter to ask for John’s head. Thought distressed for what he had promised, he felt obliged to grant the request.

This gospel episode reminds us to be prudent with our words most especially when it comes to making promises. We might regret it later. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “A No uttered from the deepest conviction is better and greater than a Yes merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.” (Fr. Mike Mahinay, SVD Bible Diary 2005)


A hunter raised his rifle and took careful aim at a large bear. When he was about to pull the trigger, the bear spoke in a soft, soothing voice, “Isn’t it better to talk than to shoot? What do you want? Let’s negotiate the matter.” Lowering his rifle, the hunter replied, “I want a fur coat.” “Good,” said the bear, “that is a negotiable question. I only want a full stomach, so let us negotiate and after a time the bear walked away alone. The negotiations had been successful. The bear had a full stomach and the hunter had his fur coat!

One can never compromise truth. Herod knew the truth but due to arrogance and conceit owing to his stature as king, he couldn’t bow down to the truth of his immoral way of life. He was easily swayed by the capriciousness of his live-in partner. He was weak because in spite of knowing John the Baptist as a holy man, he gave in to an immoral act of murdering him just to save face. Many times we always compromise higher values to lower values, moral principles to social and legal principles. Instead of promoting and defending moral uprightness we easily dump them for social convenience and poipularity. (Fr. Jojo Caballes, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


July 30, 2016 Saturday

I was a pleaser. It controlled me as a student leader and as a seminarian. As long as I pleased others, myself included, it was okay. Until one day, my novice master brought this to my attention.

Struck, I was disturbed for some time. Thereafter, the process of purification had commenced.

Herod, Herodias, and Herodias’ daughter are pleasers. Herodias wants to please herself. The daughter wants to please her mother. Herod wants to please Herodias’ daughter, his guests, and the whole kingdom. It is a story of pleasing either the self or others, of satisfying one’s desires, and of advancing personal and political interests. Today’s drama is tantamount to our present-daybombastic soap operas glorifying deceitful acts, adulterous relationships, and vanity.

Yet the same drama brings us back to our individual experiences too. We find it easy to win others’ support and enjoy pride, honor, and fame simultaneously. The drama hits the core of our personal motivations, inner drives, and conscience. It leads us to considering the fundamental mandate of pleasing God first and foremost; of doing His will, not our own; and of allowing Him to guide us to where He wants us to be.

Pleasing God seems tough, demanding, and life-long. But it gives us inner freedom and true peace. We are invited to discern and listen to “the promptings of the Holy Spirit” – words from spiritual directors that are difficult to comprehend. Here, challenges and struggles emerge like re burning us alive or water purifying our dirt, making scripture stories more relevant and real. The Eucharist nourishes us and we shed tears before the Blessed Sacrament. Suddenly, life changes.

It becomes God’s and no longer ours. And perhaps like John, who bravely stood for the truth and offered his life, we may finally, truly, and lovingly please God. (Frt. Kevin James M. Pizarras, SVD Portugal Bible Diary 2016)


Today we remember St. John Mary Vianney, the parish priest of Ars in France.  He lived in the 19th century and is the patron saint of all parish priests.  John Vianney’s greatness lay not in his learning or in his administrative abilities, but in his holiness and his dedication to the care of people.  He spent long hours hearing confessions.  He also devoted the best of his energies to preaching and to teaching catechism. God used this holy priest to work many wonderful conversions.  He left a trail of holiness that lingers to the present.

This is a good day to pray for all priests.  May they have the holiness of life of the curate of Ars.  May St. John Vianney intercede for the thousands of priests who silently serve the people, listening to their problems, giving them the forgiveness of God and feeding them with Christ’s teachings. (CBCP Online August, 2001-C)


The death of John the Baptist, King Herod, in spite of not really wanting to execute John the Baptist, ended up killing him in a most horrible way. He was beheaded and his head was presented to a young girl as a “reward” for her dancing skills. And why did he end up doing such an unjust act? He did not have the guts to take back a rash oath which he had made.

How many people end up doing things they really did not want to all because of a false sense of shame? They are ashamed to do what is right, yet they end up ashamed to do what is needed to rectify their error. How easily we sin. How difficult to be sorry and then confess our sins. Let us not be like Herod. (CBCP Online August, 2002-A)



vv. 9-10: “The king was distress, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present…. He had John beheaded in the prison.” Herod could have change his mind. But he preferred his honor and name over John’s life. Check your values. What great things have you compromised for trivial matters? (Fr. Ching OP).


SATURDAY OF THE 17TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A) – MATEO 14:1-12. Unsa may atong makuha kon kita mobarog sa kamatuoran? Ang pagsulti sa kamatuoran usa ka buhat nga dalaygon, apan lisod nga buhaton. Lisod tungod kay ang kamatuoran usahay sakit man dawaton ug makasuko sa mga tawong masalaypon. Ang pagbarog sa kamatuoran maoy nagdala kang Jesus ug kang Juan ngadto sa kamatayon – si Jesus sa sugo sa kadagkoan sa mga Hudiyo ug si Juan sa sugo ni hari Herodes. Tungod kay ang pagsulti sa kamatuoran delikado man, daghang ang maglikay sa paghimo niini. Adunay motabon sa kamatuoran; ug ang uban magpalapala o mang-atik sa tawo aron dili dumtan. Dili kini maayo. Sakto ang panultihon nga nagkanayon: “Mas maayo pa nga pasakitan ko ikaw pinaagi sa pagsulti kanimo sa kamatuoran kaysa lipayon ko ikaw pinaagi sa pagsulti kanimo’g mga bakak.” Posted by Abet Uy


Friday, July 29, 2016

SATURDAY OF THE 17TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C) – MATEO 14:1-12. UNSA MAY ATONG MAKUHA KON KITA MOBAROG SA KAMATUORAN? Ang pagsulti sa kamatuoran usa ka buhat nga dalaygon, apan lisod nga buhaton. Lisod tungod kay ang kamatuoran usahay sakit man dawaton ug makasuko sa mga tawong masalaypon. Ang pagbarog sa kamatuoran maoy nagdala kang Hesus ug kang Juan ngadto sa kamatayon – si Hesus sa sugo sa kadagkoan sa mga Hudiyo ug si Juan sa sugo ni hari Herodes. Tungod kay ang pagsulti sa kamatuoran delikado man, daghan ang maglikay sa paghimo niini. Adunay motabon sa kamatuoran ug ang uban mang-atik sa tawo aron dili dumtan. Dili kini maayo. Adunay panultihon nga nagkanayon: “Mas maayo pang pasakitan ko ikaw pinaagi sa kamatuoran kaysa lipayon ko ikaw pinaagi sa mga bakak.” Hinumdumi: “The truth hurts for a little while but a lie hurts forever.” Posted by Abet Uy


PEER PRESSURE: The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given. – Matthew 14:9

“You can do it, Danny!”

My officemates were egging me to dance during a company party. I declined, saying, “I have two left feet, and I don’t really dance.” But that made them pull me to the dance floor all the more.

With all the strength I could muster, I gave in and danced.

Like King Herod in today’s Gospel, I gave in to peer pressure. Even though he didn’t want to harm John, Herod had him killed just the same because of pressure from his guests.

Many times, we go through crossroads of peer pressure.

Sometimes it’s as simple as making the sign of the cross and praying before meals in a restaurant. Because of our fear of being scorned by friends, we don’t do it.

At times, it is as “big” as skipping Sunday Mass. The invitation from friends to go to the beach or go on a road trip doesn’t permit you to attend Mass, and yet you “go with the flow” because of peer pressure.

Dear friend, stand up for your faith. The Bible says in Matthew 10:32, “Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.” Danny Tariman (

Reflection: How many times did you “fail” the Lord because of peer pressure?

Lord, I am sorry for not standing up for You. I am sorry that I kept silent about You. Please grant me the grace to stand up for You. Amen.


1ST READING: What a pathetic reason to declare that a man deserves death. All Jeremiah has done is speak the truth about the people’s sinfulness, in particular its leaders. For centuries, this has been enough to result in execution in totalitarian regimes but Israel is not one of them. The call to conversion of heart should not be a political reality but a personal one. We need to hear it as a community, but it will be falling on deaf ears unless we have appropriated it personally first. Jeremiah 26:11-16, 24

GOSPEL: John the Baptist loses his life for speaking the truth and because Herod is a weakling. Herod is unable to stand up for the truth because he fears what others may think of him if he does. This is one of the most paralyzing and unnecessary fears we can have. If we are going to worry about the opinion of others when we know that what we are doing is right, then we will rarely do anything at all. Matthew 14:1-12

think:  The call to conversion of heart should not be a political reality but a personal one.


STANDING UP FOR YOURSELF: It will be a great shame to not have the gumption to stand up for what we believe in, and this moment of weakness will eventually lead to an unfortunate event.

I wonder how Herod felt the next day after having ordered the decapitation of John the Baptist? Herod is clearly a man who is worried about what others think of him, to the point that he is not even capable of standing up for the truth. And it is not as if he did not know the truth, for he is clearly aware that John is a good man and that he has no reason to kill him.

Hopefully our moments of weakness do not have drastic consequences like what happened to John. However, we don’t know what the consequences of our failure to stand up for the truth might be. The only way we can be sure that we are not responsible for such unfortunate circumstances is to be courageous enough to stand up for the truth, no matter what it would cost us.

Another message of this story is where resentment can lead to. Herod’s wife, previously the wife of his brother, is angry because John had the guts to tell them that their marriage is immoral. She wants revenge because she has allowed resentment against John the Baptist to fester in her heart. Resentment does not always end in murder, but that shows that a small sin can eventually grow into something big and go beyond one’s control.

The solution to this problem is to learn to forgive or, in the case of the wife of Herod, to recognize the truth of the challenge that has been thrown at her and address it before anything gets out of control. If Herodias had done that, the sequence of events would not have resulted in John the Baptist’s beheading. Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: What usually leads you to turn away from the truth? What can help you embrace truth at all times?

Jesus, help me to embrace truth even if it is sometimes painful. I want to grow in holiness. Help me to pay the price that discipleship demands when it comes to ridding sin from my life.


A FOOLISH OATH – With a copy of the Antiquities of the Jews by the first century Jewish historian Josephus in my hand, I climbed up the ruins of the Fortress of Machaerus. Around me was nothing but desert — no tree, no bush, only sand and stones, and down there was a lake called Dead Sea. It was in this desolate place that John the Baptist was held prisoner for two years until Herod Antipas made his most foolish oath that cost John his life.

This son of King Herod the Great was no better than his ruthless father. To be told by John that it was not lawful to live with his half-brother’s wife, Herodias, was enough for him to incarcerate the fearless man of God. Watching the lascivious dance of Salome, he forgot everything that was right. He allowed his conscience to be manipulated by his senses, and so caused him to commit an even worse sin — the murder of a prophet.

The story about the martyrdom of John the Baptist was surely included in the Gospel because of John’s death and the lessons it gives us. First, John the Baptist tells us something very important: To stand up for the truth and speak out courageously, even in front of one who is in authority, was, is and will always be risky. And yet, this is what the prophets of old did, what Jesus did, and what He asks us to do. It cost John his head and brought Jesus to the Cross, but if we want to be real followers of the Lord, we have to follow their example courageously.

Second, Herod makes us aware of not being carried away by lust and by our senses. Once aroused, they can rob us easily of sound reason and cause us to make decisions we would later regret. The foolish oath of Herod Antipas is the best example.

Third, the world looks at Herod, Herodias and Salome without scorn. But the one they scorned is honored as a great saint. It is worthwhile not to follow those whom the world loves and honors in spite of their shady deeds. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD

REFLECTION QUESTION: Do you have the courage of Jesus and John to stand up for the truth in public?

Lord, send me the Holy Spirit whenever I have to stand up for the truth so that I will never fail You. Amen.


Heeding or Silencing the Conscience

August 1, 2015 (readings)

Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Matthew 14:1-12

Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe you are looking for me. You stand ready to come to me in this moment of prayer. You want to help me see your love and where I can grow to be more like you. Thank you for your patience and goodness with me. I want to give myself totally to you.

Petition: Lord, help me to hear your voice more clearly today.

  1. A Disturbing Voice:John the Baptist had been sent to prepare the way for Christ. He was a witness to the holiness of God. He tried to awaken the sense of sin and the need for repentance. He spoke clearly and was afraid of no one. Sometimes the voice of God in my conscience can be bothersome, like John’s voice was to Herod. Yet a clear reminder of what is right and wrong is an act of mercy from God. He is giving us a chance to awaken from our lethargy and realize that our immortal souls are at stake. I should thank God when my conscience reminds me of things I need to change in my life.
  2. What’s Wrong With a Little Entertainment?There is nothing wrong with having celebrations in our life and moments of joy and relaxation. A Christian’s life is rich in moments of happiness. But, as was the case in Herod’s birthday party, there exists the danger of looking for entertainment and relaxation in activities or pastimes which can simply manipulate our passions, weaken our morals, and deeply offend God. If we are unable to choose our entertainment wisely we can end up throwing away the richness of our spiritual inheritance for cheap thrills. Herod ends up as a murderer rather than a good king. His unchecked passions of sensuality and human respect make him use his power to destroy rather than protect. I must remember that even in the moments of relaxation I have the responsibility to protect and foster my Christian identity. I should look for healthy pastimes where I can share the joy of Christian living with my friends and family.
  3. The Proverbial Second Chance:When Herod hears of Jesus, his conscience pricks him. He knew he had killed a man of God. Somewhere in his heart he knew that God would have the last word. The presence of Christ is an additional grace that the Father offers Herod so that he may be converted. Unfortunately it is a grace that Herod will not take advantage of, just as he did not take advantage of the presence of John the Baptist. In my own life, how many times does the Father have to remind me of my call to holiness? Do I realize how much mercy the Lord has already shown me? What is it that I am still withholding from him? Today I will seek a deep conversion of heart in that area where I know I have still been withholding myself from God.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for enlightening my conscience with your Gospel. Help me to see where I have become deaf or insensitive to the call of your teachings. I want your grace to triumph in my life. Help me to be brave to change what offends you and to live a life of Christian authenticity.

Resolution: I will receive the sacrament of reconciliation today and also invite someone else to receive it.

© 1980-Present. The Legion of Christ, Incorporated. All rights reserved. Reproduced with Permission of Copyright Owner.


Saturday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday, July 30

The Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time

Jer 26: 11-16.24; Mt 14:1-12


The scriptural passage presents before us two people who have opposing characters in life. The King Herod is an ‘I-Centred’ man whereas John the Baptist is a ‘God-Centred’ man.

The I-Centred person will be living for himself/herself. He or she will be thinking of one’s own benefit. They may not be bothered of other person’s well being, not even of other’s existence even. They will annihilate the other, if the other is seen as a stumbling block. The I-Centred person will compromise one’s values easily for getting power, wealth and comforts.

On the contrary the God-centred person will uphold values in life just as John the Baptist did. He/She will stand for truth and justice even though one has to sacrifice one’s life. Because he/she knows that there is a life waiting for them after this death. Such people will never be afraid to speak truth and will have the integrity in words and actions.

Incarnation of Jesus was not for fulfilling His will but he had emptied himself to fulfil the will of the Father (Phi 2:7). Even when he was perspiring blood in the garden, he didn’t prefer to keep ‘I’ as centre of his life, but God was at the centre. Therefore he could stand for truth, even when the whole world was shouting against Him.

Am I ‘God-Centred’ of ‘I-Centred’? Do I compromise values in life because I am worried of my own future and security? Do I look alone for my comforts? Fr. Johnson Bezalel CMI


July 30, 2016

REFLECTION: It is said that the best way to know if a metal is pure or mixed with alloys is to expose the metal to fire: if it is impure, the alloy in it will turn to dross and blacken the metal’s color, but if it is pure it will retain its color. In this case it is fire which separates the real from the imitation.

The same could be said about people who claim to be representing God and to be speaking in his name. In times of persecution we come to know who is sincere and who is not: the truly sincere maintain their stance at the risk of their lives, while the fake melt away into the landscape.

Jeremiah was a “reluctant prophet” if ever there was one. But once he ­accepted his prophetic vocation, he never wavered. His message was like his person—uncompromising. In today’s first reading we see him quietly ready to die at the hands of the Jerusalem priests and their lackey false prophets. Under the fire of death threats, he never changes his position. He is a true man of God.

How do we react when our Christian identity risks to cost us our job, our standing in the community, our future?


See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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