FIRST READING
“The Word sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.”
A reading from the Book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:11-16.24)

In those days: The priests and the prophets said to the princes and to all the people, “This man deserve the sentence of death, because he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.” Then Jeremiah spoke to all the princes and all the people, saying, “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will repent of the evil which he has pronounced against you. But as for me, behold, I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you. Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its inhabitants, for in truth the Lord sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.” Then the princes and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, “This man does not deserve the sentence of death, for he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.” But the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah so that he was not given over to the people to be put to death.

The word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM   Psalm69: 15- 16.30-31.33-34 (R. see 14)
R/. At an acceptable time, O Lord, answer me
.

Rescue me from sinking in the mud;
from those who hate me, deliver me.
Save me from the waters of the deep,
lest the waves overwhelm me.
Let not the deep engulf me,
nor the pit close its mouth on me. R.

As for me in my poverty and pain,
let your salvation, O God, raise me up.
Then I will praise God’s name with a song;
I will glorify him with thanksgiving. R.

The poor when they see it will be glad,
and God-seeking hearts will revive;
for the Lord listens to the needy,
and does not spurn his own in their chains. R.

ALLELUIA Matthew 5 : 10
Alleluia. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Alleluia.

GOSPEL               
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.

Today’s Reflection
When people around us engage in unlawful behaviour, we must raise a prophetic voice in defense of truth. Jeremiah and John the Baptist are presented to us today as models of courageous witness to truth.  Praise and worship of God consist in challenging the ways of this world by standing for truth, defending those who are treated unjustly, and refraining from acting like Herod who, in order to please other people, condemned an innocent man to death. Persecution should not stop us from standing for the values of God. Our faith in God’s help and protection must be strong, as we sing with psalmist, “Rescue me from sinking in the mud; from those who hate me, deliver me.”

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