Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Saturday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time2 - St. John Vianey priest

Saturday of the 17 OT2

 

Readings: Jer 26:11-16, 24; Mt 14:1-12

1/ First Reading: NAB Jeremiah 26:11 The priests and prophets said to the princes and to all the people, "This man deserves death; he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears." 12 Jeremiah gave this answer to the princes and all the people: "It was the LORD who sent me to prophesy against this house and city all that you have heard. 13 Now, therefore, reform your ways and your deeds; listen to the voice of the LORD your God, so that the LORD will repent of the evil with which he threatens you. 14 As for me, I am in your hands; do with me what you think good and right. 15 But mark well: if you put me to death, it is innocent blood you bring on yourselves, on this city and its citizens. For in truth it was the LORD who sent me to you, to speak all these things for you to hear." 16 Thereupon the princes and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, "This man does not deserve death; it is in the name of the LORD, our God, that he speaks to us." 24 But Ahikam, son of Shaphan, protected Jeremiah, so that he was not handed over to the people to be put to death.

2/ Gospel: NAB Matthew 14:1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus 2 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." 3 Now Herod had arrested John, bound (him), and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, 4 for John had said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." 5 Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. 6 But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod 7 so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist." 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, 10 and he had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. 12 His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.

I. THEME: Human attitudes when they face the truth.

            Facing the truth, people can have two main attitudes: Either they accept the truth and correct their mistake in order for their life to be better, or they deny the truth because of many reasons: prejudice, pride, material gains, etc. Therefore, they shall be indifferent, twisting or destroying the truth.

            Today readings illustrate the two main attitudes when people face the truth. The first reading reported Jeremiah’s case and its result. The leaders and the people recognized the prophet Jeremiah only repeated what God commanded him to speak. They also recognized that persecution of Jeremiah didn’t nullify God’s oracle, but shall speed up God’s angry judgment on the whole nation because of the innocent blood of His prophet. In the Gospel, St. Matthew reported the event in which Herode put John Baptist in prison and beheaded him because he prevented him to take Herodia, Philip’s wife, his brother to be his wife.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The truth sets people free.

            There are three main parties in Jeremiah’s case:

           

1.1/ The accusators are the priests and the prophets: They accused Jeremiah: "This man deserves death; he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears!" Yesterday we already said that they didn’t mention the first part of the oracle, but paid attention to only the second part of it, that is, the results shall happen if they don’t practice the requirements of the first part. Even when they mentioned the second part, they didn’t quote it rightly, but only what was benefited them for the condemnation of Jeremiah. They didn’t pay attention to the author of the oracle, but attributed these words to Jeremiah.

            The priests condemned Jeremiah because he talked about the destruction of the Jerusalem temple. If the temple is destroyed, they shall be out of work because there is no temple for them to serve. The prophets condemned Jeremiah because he said contrary to what they said. These prophets didn’t say what God commanded them, but only what the leaders and people liked to hear.

1.2/ The accused is the prophet Jeremiah: He used two main arguments to defend himself:

            (1) He repeated all of the oracle and its author: He said to the leaders and all the people as following: “It was the Lord who sent me to prophesy against this house and city all that you have heard. Now, therefore, reform your ways and your deeds; listen to the voice of the Lord your God, so that the Lord will repent of the evil with which he threatens you.” He wanted to tell them that God is the oracle’s author; he is only the one who repeated it. When the Lord declared the oracle, He shall execute it.

            (2) They must be responsible for the innocent blood: He continued: “As for me, I am in your hands; do with me what you think good and right. But mark well: if you put me to death, it is innocent blood you bring on yourselves, on this city and its citizens. For in truth it was the Lord who sent me to you, to speak all these things for you to hear.” Persecuting of Jeremiah shall not nullify the oracle, but increase God’s angry because they shall be also responsible for the innocent blood, especially he is a God’s prophet.

1.3/ The judge are the leaders and the people: After listened to the priests and the prophets’ accusation and Jeremiah’s defense of himself, the leaders and the people must use their wisdom to recognize what is the truth. Finally, they said to the priests and the prophets: “This man does not deserve death; it is in the name of the Lord, our God, that he speaks to us.” Jeremiah was innocent, and “Ahikam, son of Shaphan, protected Jeremiah, so that he was not handed over to the people to be put to death.”

2/ Gospel: King Herode used his power to behead John Baptist without a trial.

            When Herode the Tetrarch heard about Jesus’ reputation, he said to his 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." Herode knew about John Baptist because he was the one to kill him.

2.1/ The reason why John Baptist was put in the prison: Before Herode the Great died, he had divided his kingdom into three regions for his three sons. Herode Antipas governed the left region of Galilee; Philip governed the Transjordan region; and Herode the Less governed Jerusalem and Judah. Herode Antipas wanted to marry Herodia, Philíp’s wife, his brother. John Baptist opposed him, saying: “You can’t take her!” The Jewish law forbids one to take his brother’s wife when he is still alive. The law only permits one to take his brother’s wife when his brother is dead and has no descendant. Herode Antipas committed two sins: First, the sin of divorcing his first wife, the king Nabatean Arabs’ daughter. Secondly, the sin of incest because he took his brother’s wife.

           

2.2/ The reason why Herode didn’t kill John Baptist yet: The passage of Matthew gave a reason that “because he is afraid of the Jews.” The Jews considered John Baptist as a God’s prophet and Herode was afraid that the Jews shall be rebellious if he killed John. He confined John in prison to wait for an opportunity.

            The historian Josephus gave a main reason why Herode wanted to kill John Baptist because he didn’t want John Baptist’s influences on people (Ant 18, 5, 2). Being a Tetrarch of Galilee, he didn’t want to have any oppositon.

           

2.3/ The reason why John Baptist was beheaded: St. Matthew reported the occasion as follows: “On the Herode’s birthday, Herodia’s daughter 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.”

            All the facts show that Herode the Tetrarch wasn’t a righteous leader. He divorced his wife, took his brother’s wife, promised nonsensically, unjustly kept his vow and violated the righteous life.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We must respect the truth by carefully listening when other presents his opinion, and by wisely judging his opinion. Don’t use our power to suffocate the truth.

            - When we recognize something is true, we should have courage to correct so that our life shall be better everyday. We must also be ready to say and to witness for the truth.

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