The Gospel reading from the Mass for Saturday of the 17th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 14:1-12.

Having been rejected by religious leaders (the Pharisees) and ordinary people (His own townsfolk), Christ is now feared and rejected by King Herod, who had earlier murdered Christ’s forerunner, John the Baptist and now believes the hated John has reincarnated in Jesus.

John was a powerful prophet of miraculous birth who lived an austere and rugged life in the desert. John courageously came to Herod and condemned Herod’s marriage to brother’s wife, Herodias, as unlawful. Herod was intrigued by John, but locked John up to silence his condemnation of Herod’s incestuous marriage.

Herod was a vile and corrupt character: he had an adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife (Heroditas, who was also Herod’s niece); he, perhaps fueled by gluttonous consumption of wine, pridefully made oaths as he lusted over his grand-niece as she seductively danced; cowardly, unwilling to break his lust oath to grant his grand-niece’s request, he beheads the innocent John the Baptist. Grotesquely, he had John the Baptist’s head brought on a platter to his birthday feast. Herod is an anti-Christ who will collude with Pilate to crucify Christ.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ’s miracles are recognized by one of the greatest men, John the Baptist, and even by His enemies. Person of the Trinity, Christ directs the miraculous birth of His kinsmen John the Baptist to the elderly Zechariah and barren Elizabeth.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) From Christ’s birth, evil men resorted to evil actions to attempt to oppose God (the Murder of the Innocents, numerous plots, the beheading of the Baptist, the Crucifixion). Marvel at Christ’s overwhelming power that provokes the evil to desperate deeds.

2) Like Herod, governments, Islamic terrorists and various activists continue to use murder, violence and coercion to promote their evil agendas. Reflect upon the 5th Commandment and the need to Respect Bodily Integrity (CCC 2297-2298) and pray for Christ to give you and all Catholic men to fortitude to be unafraid to defend the faith in the face of violence.

2) Like the corrupt Herod who held secular power and abused marriage, corrupt secular governments have made divorce and homosexual “marriage” legal in many places. As Herod killed John the Baptist for speaking the truth about marriage, secular governments and activists have begun to persecute the Church for her stand on marriage. Review Marriage in God’s Plan (CCC 1601-1620, 1655-1658) and pray for Christ’s mercy for all those who oppose His will on marriage and for Him to give you the courage to pronounce the Catholic truth about marriage.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Virgin Mary

Virtue of the Day – Hope

Corporal Work of Mercy – To bury the dead

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To pray for the living and the dead