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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 6, 14-29

King Herod had heard about him, since by now his name was well known. Some were saying, 'John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.'

Others said, 'He is Elijah,' others again, 'He is a prophet, like the prophets we used to have.'

But when Herod heard this he said, 'It is John whose head I cut off; he has risen from the dead.'

Now it was this same Herod who had sent to have John arrested, and had had him chained up in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife whom he had married.

For John had told Herod, 'It is against the law for you to have your brother's wife.'

As for Herodias, she was furious with him and wanted to kill him, but she was not able to do so,

because Herod was in awe of John, knowing him to be a good and upright man, and gave him his protection. When he had heard him speak he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him.

An opportunity came on Herod's birthday when he gave a banquet for the nobles of his court, for his army officers and for the leading figures in Galilee.

When the daughter of this same Herodias came in and danced, she delighted Herod and his guests; so the king said to the girl, 'Ask me anything you like and I will give it you.'

And he swore her an oath, 'I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.'

She went out and said to her mother, 'What shall I ask for?' She replied, 'The head of John the Baptist.'

The girl at once rushed back to the king and made her request, 'I want you to give me John the Baptist's head, immediately, on a dish.'

The king was deeply distressed but, thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, he was reluctant to break his word to her.

At once the king sent one of the bodyguard with orders to bring John's head.

The man went off and beheaded him in the prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother.

When John's disciples heard about this, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The mission of the disciples in Galilee attracted the attention of the people and of the authorities to Jesus in a greater way. By now the young teacher had his community, a group of his own with whom he moved around and with whom he gathered many other people. Even Herod, Herod the Great’s son, who was governing over Galilee and Perea, and who had already heard about Jesus, realized that Jesus’ fame had grown largely and spread everywhere. Some people identified Jesus with Elijah, others with one of the ancient prophets, and still others believed he was John the Baptist, risen from the dead. Herod had tried to stop John the Baptist’s preaching because what he was saying questioned him directly; he judged Herod’s behaviour and demanded that he change. Herod would not allow his heart to be touched by the prophet’s words, and little by little his heart hardened, until he fell victim to the murderous demands of Salome, who had been prompted by the deceitful Herodias. The king wanted to be stronger than the Baptist’s words and sought to silence him, and in the end he let him be killed. He was not able, however, to eliminate the Word. Jesus was going to bring the Baptist’s preaching to completion, so that Herod could truthfully say: "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised." That preaching began to travel along the roads of the world again, with no other strength than itself. The Gospel only demands that we listen to it willingly and welcome it into our hearts. Unfortunately, we often consider ourselves stronger than the preaching, developing the same attitude as Herod: we seek to silence it, distance it, and give it no credence. But in doing so, we deprive ourselves and others of the light. The evangelist comes to tells us today that the Gospel is stronger than the strength of the many Herods of this world. And blessed are we if we welcome it into our hearts and allow it to work in us and change us; for it was sent for this purpose from on high.

Memory of Jesus crucified