"What does it mean to be black and Catholic? It means that I come to my church fully functioning. I bring myself, my black self, all that I am, all that I have, all that I hope to become. I bring my whole history, my traditions, my experience, my culture, my African-American song and dance and gesture and movement and teaching and preaching and healing and responsibility as gift to the Church."
—Sr. Thea Bowman, as quoted in the book The Franciscan Saints
✞ "He who wishes for anything but Christ, does not know what he wishes; he who asks for anything but Christ, does not know what he is asking; he who works, and not for Christ, does not know what he is doing." — St. Philip Neri
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "Think, dear friends, how the Lord continually proves to us that there will be a resurrection to come, of which he made the Lord Jesus Christ the first-fruits by raising him from the dead. Contemplate the resurrection that is always going on. Day and night declare the resurrection to us. The night sinks to sleep, and the day rises; the day departs, and the night comes on. Look at the crops, how the grain is sown: the sower goes out and throws it on the ground, and the scattered seed, dry and bare when it fell on the ground, is gradually dissolved. Then out of its disintegration the mighty power of the Lord's providence raises it up again, and from one seed come many bearing fruit." — St. Clement, p. 9 AN EXCERPT FROM A Year with the Church Fathers
TODAY'S FEAST DAY
✝ THE PASSION OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST ✝ St. John the Baptist was a cousin of Jesus, and his mission was to preach repentance to Israel in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. When John rebuked King Herod for his unlawful union with Herodias, his brother's wife, Herod had John imprisoned. On his birthday, Herod celebrated with a great feast as Salome, the daughter of Herodias, danced before his guests. Herod, pleased with Salome's performance, promised to give her whatever she asked for, even up to half his kingdom. On the advice of her wicked mother, Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod regretfully ordered the execution. St. John the Baptist is the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets, highly venerated by the Church. The feast of his martyrdom is August 29th. See More About Today's Feast >
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation." Isaiah 12:2
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Martyrdom of John the Baptist
The drunken oath of a king with a shallow sense of honor, a seductive dance and the hateful heart of a queen combined to bring about the martyrdom of John the Baptist. The greatest of prophets suffered the fate of so many Old Testament prophets before him: rejection and martyrdom. The "voice crying in the desert" did not hesitate to accuse the guilty, did not hesitate to speak the truth. But why? What possesses a man that he would give up his very life?
This great religious reformer was sent by God to prepare the people for the Messiah. His vocation was one of selfless giving. The only power that he claimed was the Spirit of Yahweh. "I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matthew 3:11).
Scripture tells us that many people followed John looking to him for hope, perhaps in anticipation of some great messianic power. John never allowed himself the false honor of receiving these people for his own glory. He knew his calling was one of preparation. When the time came, he led his disciples to Jesus: "The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God.' The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus" (John 1:35-37).
It is John the Baptist who has pointed the way to Christ. John's life and death were a giving over of self for God and other people. His simple style of life was one of complete detachment from earthly possessions. His heart was centered on God and the call that he heard from the Spirit of God speaking to his heart. Confident of God's grace, he had the courage to speak words of condemnation, repentance, and salvation.
Each of us has a calling to which we must listen. No one will ever repeat the mission of John, and yet all of us are called to that very mission. It is the role of the Christian to witness to Jesus. Whatever our position in this world, we are called to be disciples of Christ. By our words and deeds, others should realize that we live in the joy of knowing that Jesus is Lord. We do not have to depend upon our own limited resources, but can draw strength from the vastness of Christ's saving grace.
Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist
Reading 1 1 Thes 2:1-8
You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our reception among you was not without effect. Rather, after we had suffered and been insolently treated, as you know, in Philippi, we drew courage through our God to speak to you the Gospel of God with much struggle. Our exhortation was not from delusion or impure motives, nor did it work through deception. But as we were judged worthy by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, that is how we speak, not as trying to please men, but rather God, who judges our hearts. Nor, indeed, did we ever appear with flattering speech, as you know, or with a pretext for greed–God is witness– nor did we seek praise from men, either from you or from others, although we were able to impose our weight as Apostles of Christ. Rather, we were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children. With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the Gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 139:1-3, 4-6 R. (1) You have searched me and you know me, Lord. O LORD, you have probed me and you know me; you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know the whole of it. Behind me and before, you hem me in and rest your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; too lofty for me to attain. R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
Alleluia Mt 5:10 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 6:17-29
Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias' own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you." He even swore many things to her, "I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of 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 hurried back to the king's presence and made her request, "I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist." The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
Meditation: Psalm 139:1-6
The Passion of Saint John the Baptist (Memorial)
O Lord, you have probed me and you know me. (Psalm 139:1)
There is only one person besides the Virgin Mary and Jesus himself who has a feast day for both his birth and his death, and that's John the Baptist. This last and greatest of prophets accomplished so much by preparing the way for the Lord, and yet he ended his days in Herod's jail, awaiting execution. Let's try to imagine what he might have said to the Lord as he sat alone in the dark.
"Thank you, Lord, for your grace. Not only did you call me to be the herald of your Messiah, but you also placed me in his family tree. I am anxious as the threat of death hangs over me, but still I will trust that you won't abandon me.
"Lord, my mother, Elizabeth, told me how I leapt in her womb when Mary came to visit her. She told me how the Holy Spirit filled her and me with joy because we were in the presence of your Son. Thank you for giving me the grace to recognize him, even though both of us were hidden from view. Help me to cling to these memories, even as I cling to the last days of my life.
"You know, Lord, how stunned I was when Jesus came to me for baptism. My human understanding couldn't make sense of it; why would he, the Redeemer of Israel, need a baptism of repentance? But then I heard your voice from heaven, and I saw your Spirit come upon him like a dove, and I began to understand. You showed me that he was not just the Messiah, but the Lamb of God who would take away all of our sins. Once again your Spirit filled me with joy as he opened my eyes to your marvelous plan.
"Now as I sit here wondering what will happen to me, I ask you to send your Spirit again. Give me the courage and trust and faith that I need to face whatever my future holds. Lord, help me to stay faithful to you to the end."
"Holy Spirit, inspire me the way you inspired John the Baptist. Help me recognize Jesus today, and fill me with trust in your plan."
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 Mark 6:17-29
"Our exhortation was not from delusion or impure motives, nor did it work through deception."
We pray today "O LORD, you have probed me and you know me; you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar."
Today, we honor the day of life given to God, St. John The Baptist, the cousin of the Christ, the baptizer of Christ, the believer....in Christ the Lord, the one that is to be and has power over life and death. It is easy to get caught up in the drama of the story, of the heavy influence of family, Herod's wife and Herod's daughter. Herod chose them over his interest in righteousness and holiness, which are intimately united. Herod had John locked up, but found John very interesting, and knew he was holy...but all that didn't matter. His pride, his word, his family was all more important.
Soon, Jesus would follow the footsteps of John, and even cross the mind of Herod when Herod hears that John had possibly resurrected Mt14:1-2 "This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him."...it was Jesus, all bound to John and all the greatest of prophets. We too are bound to Jesus in the Holy Sacraments. We too can give our lives to the truth like St. John the Baptist. Question is, can we? Yes. Will we? That is the key question.
Herod's daughter gave her mother St. John's head on a platter, just as the mother desired. Revenge. Pride at work. All things opposite the Lord teaches, all things opposite the truth.
What are we teaching our kids? Revenge? I remember a little story of about 50 or 60 years ago, my grandpa had decided to treat a couple of his older daughters (he had 13 kids), to a burger and shake at a restaurant. It was to be a memorable experience for they were poor, and they were going out to eat with their daddy. Well, the restaurant people shunned them, discriminated them and basically said they would not be served. The daughters asked what they should do or say, and grandpa said to forget about it, "let's leave and be at peace". They left trouble. And nothing happened. Did the good win? Or did the devil win? For sure there is evil in the world, just like there are snakes. If you mess with them, you could get bit. We have been called to a Kingdom and serve a victorious king. His way is victory, and the crown of saints is atrocity in the world. To lose your life is one thing, but to gain the eternal life is everything. Saint John died for speaking the truth ...for....sticking his neck out. Jesus, the Truth, too, was unaccepted, even Pontious Pilate asked "what is truth?". So lost in darkness was the world. But today We have the TRUTH We have JESUS We have victory over ugly sin and scary death. Jesus is the savior. You are the voice of truth and life and you have influence. Influence the world for the good...for God. You have so much influence on me. Every soul I run into, I look for influence. If you want bad influence, listen to the world. If you want good influence, listen to Jesus, do as He says, and why? Because He does what GOD Says. Time is ticking and I'm baffled at God's will. I led a vigil rosary Sunday night, and I said repeatedly, that "the cross is what? Our burdens, this and that? No, it's more...our cross is to do God's will!" We must love our cross, love God's will, wherever it leads, and however scary it can be, it is nothing to Him, He is OUR FATHER! Saint John, pray for us, for our faith to illuminate the world with JESUS!