In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property.
A reading from the Book of Leviticus (Leviticus 25:1.8-17)
The Lord said to Moses on Mount Sinai, “You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall be to you forty-nine years. Then you shall send abroad the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall send abroad the trumpet throughout all your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be to you; in it you shall neither sow, nor reap what grows of itself, nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat what it yields out of the field. “In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property. And if you sell to your neighbour or buy from your neighbour, you shall not wrong one another. According to the number of years after the jubilee, you shall buy from your neighbour, and according to the number of years of crops he shall sell to you. If the years are many you shall increase the price, and if the years are few you shall diminish the price, for it is the number of the crops that he is selling to you. You shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God.”
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 67:2-3.5.7-8 (R. 4)
R/. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you
O God, be gracious and bless us
And let your face shed its light upon us.
So will your ways be known upon earth
and all nations learn your salvation. R.
Let the nations be glad and shout for joy,
With uprightness you rule the peoples;
you guide the nations on earth. R.
The earth has yielded its fruit
for God, our God, has blessed us.
May God still give us his blessing
that all the ends of the earth may revere him. R
ALLELUIA Matthew 5:10
Alleluia. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Alleluia.
Herod sent and had John beheaded; his disciples went and told Jesus.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew14:1-12)
At that time, Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus; and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist, ‘ he has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.” For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison, for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; because John said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” And the king was sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came and took the body and buried it; and they went and told Jesus.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Herod hears about Jesus’ fame and mistakenly concludes that “this is John the Baptist himself”. His subconscious mind is reminding him of the dreadful crime he had committed against John by means of his infamous beheading. Haunted by fear and guilt, he turns out to be a coward despite having power and wealth. This is what happens to people when they commit sin but care not to repent. Crippled by fear, guilt and shame, they fail to enjoy peace, joy and freedom. Like Herod they will always be weighed down by fear and guilt. The only way out for them is to encounter Christ and repent for “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Ps 145:8). Saint Ignatius of Loyola teaches us that one can indeed surrender one’s life to Christ and his cause, no matter what the past!