Friday, 29 August 2008

My Thoughts on the Bible Readings of the Day

Today's gospel reading is about martyrdom, specifically the martyrdom of John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a martyr because he stood up for his faith- he saw an act against God's laws and didn't hesitate to condemn it publicly, even when the wrongdoers are Herod Antipas (ruler of Galilee and Perea) and his wife Herodias- and died because of it.

Martyrdom is the act of dying for one's faith. The Catholic Church considers martyrdom to be the greatest act of love. If a Christian is killed because he/she will not renounce their faith he/she immediately enters Heaven. Thus martyrdom can be considered a gift from God given to a select few. Think about it. There are many cases in the Bible about people who are imprisoned and in danger of being executed for not renouncing God, but not all of them were martyred. Consider the three friends of Daniel (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). They were thrown into a blazing furnace for not renouncing their God. Yet they were not martyred.

Do we contemporary Christians and Catholics consider martyrdom to be a gift from God? If people point a loaded gun to our heads and tell us to renounce Christ or die, do we rejoice? Or do we deep down in our hearts consider those martyred for their faith in Jesus to be unfortunate, even slightly foolish? How would we respond if God offers us the gift of martyrdom? Let us decide to accept this gift if God ever offers it to us. After all, it guarantees instant and immediate access to Heaven.

Memorial of the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist

We Catholic honor the memory of the beheading of John the Baptist, who along with our Lord Jesus Christ and Mother Mary have the distinction of their birth and death being celebrated by the Catholic Church. Today's gospel reading relates the circumstances of his execution. He had the courage to blame Herod to his face for the scandal of his illegal union with his sister-in-law Herodias, whose husband was still alive. Herodias contrived to make Herod imprison him and took advantage of an unexpected opportunity to obtain through her daughter Salome the beheading of the saint.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch:
There is no doubt that blessed John suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our Redeemer, whose forerunner he was, and gave his life for him. His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say: "I am the truth"? Therefore, because John shed his blood for the truth, he surely died for Christ. — Saint Bede the Venerable

(the above is taken from Catholic Culture)

Bible Readings for This Day (29 Aug, Fri - 21st Week)

1 Corinthians 1: 17-25
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – and not with clever speech, so that the cross of Christ would not become useless. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will thwart the cleverness of the intelligent.” Where is the wise man? Where is the expert in the Mosaic law? Where is the debater of this age? Has God not made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since in the wisdom of God the world by its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased to save those who believe by the foolishness of preaching. For Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks ask for wisdom, but we preach about a crucified Christ, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Jeremiah 1: 17-19
“But you, Jeremiah, get yourself ready! Go and tell these people everything I instruct you to say. Do not be terrified of them, or I will give you good reason to be terrified of them. I, the Lord, hereby promise to make you as strong as a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall. You will be able to stand up against all who live in the land, including the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and all the people of the land. They will attack you but they will not be able to overcome you, for I will be with you to rescue you,” says the Lord.

Mark 6: 17-29
For Herod himself had sent men, arrested John, and bound him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had repeatedly told Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” So Herodias nursed a grudge against him and wanted to kill him. But she could not because Herod stood in awe of John and protected him, since he knew that John was a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard him, he was thoroughly baffled, and yet he liked to listen to John. But a suitable day came, when Herod gave a banquet on his birthday for his court officials, military commanders, and leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” He swore to her, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” So she went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” Her mother said, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she hurried back to the king and made her request: “I want the head of John the Baptist on a platter immediately.” Although it grieved the king deeply, he did not want to reject her request because of his oath and his guests. So the king sent an executioner at once to bring John’s head, and he went and beheaded John in prison. He brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard this, they came and took his body and placed it in a tomb.

Daily Bible Verse

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