August 28, 2022

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28 August 2022

Ordinary Form
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sirach 3,17-18.20.28-29
Psalm 68,4-5.6-7.10-11
Hebrews 12,18-19.22-24a
Luke 14,1.7-14

Extraordinary Form
12th Sunday post Pentecost

2Corinthians 3,4-9
Psalm 33,2.3
Psalm 87,2
Luke 10,23-37

August 29 Feast of the Passion of St. John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist preached a message of repentance. He called souls to confession, which would culminate in a kind of baptism. He even baptized Jesus Christ. (Matthew 3,1-17 / Mark 1,4-11, Luke 3,1-18)

Remember that this religious ritual of being immersed or “baptized” in water was a known practice among Jews at that time. Jesus will transform that same action into the Matter of the Sacrament of Baptism. I digress.

Because St. John the Baptist rebuked Herod for his relationship with his brother’s wife Herodias, Herod had the holy preacher arrested and jailed. (Matthew 14,3-5 / Mark 6,17-20 / Luke 3,19-20) The Gospels refer to Herodias as Philip’s wife rather than as his ex-wife. Perhaps the divorces and second marriage had not yet hap-pened? Even if the legal formalities had taken place the star-crossed lovers would not have escaped the wrath of St. John the Baptist. He was condemning more than just adultery.

Herod Antipas and Herodias met in Rome, fell in love, divorced their spouses, and married. Although divorce was permitted at the time, it had been long forbidden for a man to marry his brother’s wife (Leviticus 20,21). It is true that a widow marrying her brother-in-law was entirely different. The Book of Deuteronomy requires a childless widow to marry her husband’s brother (Deuteronomy 25,5).

What was especially egregious about Herod Antipas marrying Herodias is that his father and her granddaughter were the same person: Herod the Great who ordered the slaughtering of the innocents after the birth of Jesus.

Herodias’ father Aristobulus IV had been executed by Herod the Great, after which she was placed into a marriage with her half-uncle Herod II, whom the Gospels of Matthew and Mark identify as Philip. This marriage gave issue to Salome, whose dance resulted in the beheading of St. John the Baptist.

There was a lot of human suffering going on, no doubt. Also doubtless was that St. John the Baptist could not pretend that Herod Antipas was really married to Herodias. He paid for that with his life. Even in jail he continued to preach to Herod. Somewhere in there are many lessons for all of us.

St. John the Baptist, pray for us!
Fr. Christopher J. Pollard