AD SENSE

4th Week, Friday, Feb 5

 4th Week, Friday, Feb 5

Hebrews 13:1-8 / Mark 6:14-29 

Imitate your forefathers; Love your fellow Hebrews.

One Sunday morning a pastor began his homily by holding up a huge triangle. Then he said, “My homily this morning is like this triangle. It too has three points.

“The first point is this. Because we are failing to love one another, as Jesus taught us, people are starving and hurting in today’s world. “The second point is that most people don’t give a damn about it. “The third point is that you are more concerned about the fact that I just said damn than you are about the fact that our failure to love is causing suffering and pain in our world.”

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Are we more scandalized by the word damn than by the pain caused by our failure to love? “The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them.” G. b. Shaw

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The letter to the Hebrews gives today to the Christian community a set of moral exhortations. Perseverance in the faith means especially perseverance in love, the basis of all morality. With the death of the Baptist ends the life of the last prophet of God of the Old Testament, who, as the hinge between the Old and the New Testaments, had prepared the way for the Lord’s coming. He died as a suffering servant of God, a new Elijah, who stood up to kings and infamous queens. ****

In the cycle of life, there is this reality of retribution that cannot be denied. Call it whatever, it stems from the Golden Rule, i.e. "Do to others what you want others to do unto you". Obviously, this is not limited to one-to-one situation. More so in the case of an evil deed, the elimination of the victim does not mean that retribution for the aggressor will not take place.

From the gospel, we can see this happening to king Herod. He had John the Baptist beheaded because he made an oath to the daughter of Herodias in the presence of his guests. But king Herod knew that John the Baptist was innocent and that he was a good and holy man. So, when he heard of Jesus and the miraculous powers at work in Him, disturbing thoughts of John the Baptist came to his mind. And this was just the beginning of the retribution that he would have to face, even though John the Baptist was already dead.

The 1st reading puts the Golden Rule in a more positive way as it says: Continue to love each other like brothers, and remember always to welcome strangers, for by doing this, some people have entertained angels without knowing it. And we also know that whatever we do to others, we do it to Jesus. May we always treat others with love, and be assured that in the end, it is Jesus who will reward us.

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    Encountering Christ:

    1. The Mind of John: John’s whole life had been centered around the mystery of the coming of the Messiah. He knew what his mission was—to pave the way for the Messiah and preach truth and repentance. But had he expected his public ministry would come to an abrupt end with his imprisonment? Was he prepared to be locked away in a dungeon with no one to baptize or preach to? That time in the prison was likely a time of darkness where John had plenty of time to think and reflect on his life and his brief experience with Jesus. Had he heard the call of God clearly? Would he be abandoned by God here in the prison cell? Maybe the Lord would come to rescue him from prison, like the Scripture about the Messiah in Isaiah: “the captives will be set free” (Isaiah 61:1). Would Herod convert and change his ways? Was all that he had done for the coming kingdom worth it or was it to no avail? Yet, day after day passed, as he was held captive to the whims of an unpredictable leader, waiting to see how the plan of God would unfold in his life.

    2. The Thoughts of Jesus: When his cousin, John the Baptist first began his public ministry, Jesus saw his Father’s hand in ushering in his own public ministry. This meant leaving the warmth and love of his mother and home in Nazareth to begin the three-year journey, toward the culmination of his life poured out on the cross. In many ways, Jesus knew that John would not only pave the way, but that John would also foreshadow the path of suffering at the hands of men who would take his life. Like John, Jesus would spend time in prison, alone and abandoned. He too would be sentenced to death by an arbitrary command of a human leader. He too would shed his blood in a seemingly useless and inglorious death. John would go before Jesus in all things. As Jesus united his heart in prayer to John in the prison, was it not a consolation to know that Jesus had a friend and companion in this journey and that he too was not alone?

    3. John’s Message to Me: John’s time in prison must have been an intense time of prayer and reflection. Maybe he would want to have said this to us today: “While that time was dark and full of uncertainty, I knew the voice of God and was certain that he was good. I knew that I was in his hands. Do not fear your circumstances, no matter how trapped you may feel in darkness and evil. You are not alone. Is this not the path of a disciple of Jesus? Did he not promise us the cross as our companion on the journey? And is it not the noblest and most beautiful thing we can do, to unite to Our Lord in his own passage of death, to the fullness of glory in his resurrection? I died for Jesus. And in many ways, I died with him, for love of him and in glory to the Father.”

    Conversing with Christ: Lord, how easily I reject the cross in my life and think I am doing something wrong when people dismiss me or refuse to see the goodness and truth I seek to live. Allow me to know that when I embrace these moments, I console your heart as I somehow unite in friendship to you and your own journey. Give me the courage and trust of John the Baptist, to speak about you no matter what comes.

    Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will examine my circumstances to see how I can surrender and embrace them with greater confidence in you.

    For Further Reflection: Reflect and pray with the words from today’s first reading, Hebrews 13:1-8, as possible thoughts and reflections on the heart of John the Baptist: Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body. Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers. Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.” Thus we may say with confidence: “The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

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Opening Prayer

Lord our God, John the Baptist spoke without fear to the high and the mighty that they too were bound by God’s laws. He risked his life for what is right and good. Let him inspire us too to let your word become flesh and blood in us by taking the risks of our faith and living as we believe. Let this be the way in which we prepare the fuller coming among us of Jesus Christ our Lord.