Scripture: 1st Reading: Lev25,1,8-17; Resp. Psalm: Ps67,2-3,5,7-8; Gosp. Accl.: Mt5,10; Gospel: Mt14,1-12
In today's First Reading, Yahweh gave instructions to Moses about the Jubilee Year. This is the fiftieth year that Yahweh declared should be hallowed in all of Israel. It is to be a year of freedom and liberty, of release and emancipation. It is a year when the people should "neither sow, nor reap what grows of itself, nor gather grapes from the undressed vines." It is a holy year when the needs of the poor are considered.
The Jubilee year is a year of transparent justice, the year when no one should ever wrong or do evil to his neighbour, the year when there must be no restrictions to mutual exchange of goods and services, the year when the fear of the Lord should be at its best. In other words, it is a year when man should endeavour to be at peace with Yahweh his God and the neighbour. It is a time of the visitation of Yahweh.
At His coming into this world, our Lord instituted a better time of the visitation of God. Our Lord instituted a new era of divine justice, love, peace, solidarity, faith, friendship, hope, divine closeness. His entire life exemplified this. It was for this new vision of God's engagement with humanity that John the Baptist, His forerunner, gave his life. Today's gospel recounts the tragic end of this great witness to the Lamb.
John the Baptist lost his life as a result of his dedication to the truth. He was a fearless preacher against social ills, a true man of God who dedicated his entire life to bringing the people back to their God. John's sin was that he spoke out against the adultery committed by Herod the Tetrarch who coveted and took for wife Herodias, the wife of Philip, his half brother. For speaking out, John had to die.
John lived and died for the truth. He challenges us from our slumber to question ourselves about our devotion to the truth. We are called to give justice to the oppressed, to be the voice of the voiceless, to provide succour for those without hope. Everyone of us is called to this as a God-ordained duty. How prompt have we been in carrying this out?
Let us pray: Lord our God, your Son inaugurated at His coming a new era of jubilee, a period of your engagement and closeness to humanity. Give us your grace to make the best use of the gifts you have given us to bring about your justice, peace, solidarity, hope and love to our distressed world. Amen
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always. Happy Weekend.