Saturday in the seventeenth week of the Ordinary Time1
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Saturday in the seventeenth week of the Ordinary Time1

Saturday of the 17 OT1

 

Readings: Lev 25:1, 8-17; Mt 14:1-12.

1/ First Reading: RSV Leviticus 25:1 The LORD said to Moses on Mount Sinai, 8 "And you shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall be to you forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall send abroad the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall send abroad the trumpet throughout all your land. 10 And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his family. 11 A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be to you; in it you shall neither sow, nor reap what grows of itself, nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. 12 For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat what it yields out of the field. 13 "In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property. 14 And if you sell to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not wrong one another. 15 According to the number of years after the jubilee, you shall buy from your neighbor, and according to the number of years for crops he shall sell to you. 16 If the years are many you shall increase the price, and if the years are few you shall diminish the price, for it is the number of the crops that he is selling to you. 17 You shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the LORD your God.

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 14:1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus; 2 and he said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist, he has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him." 3 For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison, for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; 4 because John said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." 5 And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. 6 But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and pleased Herod, 7 so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter." 9 And the king was sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given; 10 he sent and had John beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came and took the body and buried it; and they went and told Jesus.


I. THEME: We must revere God by doing what He teaches.

           

            God concerns about the life of all His creatures: the earth, plants, animals and human beings, because all of them are created by Him. God trusts and hands all creation into human hands. At the same time, He also teaches people to wisely use them and to share with each other so that no one shall be hungry. In opposition, people are always selfish to hoard up for themselves and to store up hatredness to destroy others.

            Today readings want to emphasize the opposition between God and human beings. In the first reading, God commands Moses to celebrate the Jubilee every fifty years, with a purpose for all people have a chance to start their life anew and to wipe out all social injustices by releasing the prisoners and giving back houses and land for those who must sell them for their living. In the Gospel, John the Baptist was hated by Herodia because he prevented her marriage with Herode Antipas. When the opportunity came, she told Salome, her daughter, to ask for John the Baptist’s head on the plate for her.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The Jubilee and what people must do.

1.1/ Time: The Jubilee is celebrated every fifty years, based on what the Lord said to Moses on Mount Sinai, “You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall be to you forty-nine years.Then you shall send abroad the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall send abroad the trumpet throughout all your land.”

           

1.2/ Purpose: The Jubilee wants to remind people two things:

            (1) Only God is the owner of all properties, people are only stewards; God gives to them to benefit themselves and others.

            (2) If people love God, they must also love others. God commands, “You shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God.”

           

1.3/ Things people must do on the Jubilee:

            (1) Releasing prisoners and liberating slaves: "You shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his family."

            (2) Don’t sowing or harvesting: “A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be to you; in it you shall neither sow, nor reap what grows of itself, nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines.For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat what it yields out of the field.”
            - Even the land must be rested every seventh year, the Sabbatical year, after six years of planting (Lev 25:2-7). This year also falls into the Jubilee. This is a wise commandment because it helps people having a chance to rest, and the land has a chance to give more fruits next year.

            - The Jubilee helps the poor having a chance to eat food from the field in that year.

            (3) Returning land and houses for those who must sell them: “In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property.And if you sell to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not wrong one another.” Since God is the sole owner of all properties, no one has the right on one property forever.

            (4) The contract must be made in all transactions: "According to the number of years after the jubilee, you shall buy from your neighbor, and according to the number of years for crops he shall sell to you.If the years are many you shall increase the price, and if the years are few you shall diminish the price, for it is the number of the crops that he is selling to you." The reason for this law is that the buyer shall have to return it to the seller when the Jubilee comes.

2/ Gospel: King Herode used his power to behead John Baptist without a trial.

            When Herode the Tetrarch heard about Jesus’ reputation, he said to his his servants, "This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him." Herode knew about John Baptist because he was the one to kill him.

2.1/ The reason why John Baptist was put in the prison: Before Herode the Great died, he had divided his kingdom into three regions for his three sons. Herode Antipas governed the left region of Galilee; Philip governed the Transjordan region; and Herode the Less governed Jerusalem and Judah. Herode Antipas wanted to marry Herodia, Philíp’s wife, his brother. John Baptist opposed him, saying: “You can’t take her!” The Jewish law forbids one to take his brother’s wife when he is still alive. The law only permits one to take his brother’s wife when his brother is dead and has no descendant. Herode Antipas committed two sins: First, the sin of divorcing his first wife, the king Nabatean Arabs’ daughter. Secondly, the sin of incest because he took his brother’s wife.

           

2.2/ The reason why Herode didn’t kill John Baptist yet: The passage of Matthew gave a reason that “because he is afraid of the Jews.” The Jews considered John Baptist as a God’s prophet and Herode was afraid that the Jews shall be rebellious if he killed John. He confined John in prison to wait for an opportunity.

            The historian Josephus gave a main reason why Herode wanted to kill John Baptist because he didn’t want John Baptist’s influences on people (Ant 18, 5, 2). Being a Tetrarch of Galilee, he didn’t want to have any oppositon.

           

2.3/ The reason why John Baptist was beheaded: St. Matthew reported the occasion as follows: “On the Herode’s birthday, Herodia’s daughter performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for.Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist. The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given,and he had John beheaded in the prison.His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother.”

            All the facts show that Herode the Tetrarch wasn’t a righteous leader. He divorced his wife, took his brother’s wife, promised nonsensically, unjustly kept his vow and violated the righteous’ life.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - Everyone in the world is God’s children; therefore, all are brothers and sisters. God wants us to love each other and to share all His graces and gifts with others.

            - We must eliminate all forms of hatredness, revenge, injustice; at the same time, we must imitate God so that we always love and forgive others.

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