Saturday – 17th Week in Ordinary Time   

Gospel – Matthew 14:1-12


Qumran, Essene Settlement

A group of tourists sits in a bus that is passing through gorgeously beautiful country; lakes and mountains and green fields and rivers. But the shades of the bus are pulled down. They do not have the slightest idea of what lies beyond the windows of the bus. And all the time of their journey is spent in squabbling over who will have the seat of honor in the bus, who will be applauded, who will be well considered. And so they remain till the journey’s end.

Ever had that experience?  So caught up in something ultimately trivial that we end up missing the big picture?  So obsessed with one thing – a person, an object, some activity or interest – that you lose interest in anything else? 

That is where we find Herod Antipas in today’s Gospel.  He is so focused, so enamored of Salome, that he loses any perspective on life and he promises to give Salome anything.  And she asks for the head of John the Baptist.  Too late, his pride and lust win the day and Herod agrees!  Too late, he comes to his senses and is greatly distressed over his action.  But the damage is done and there is no way back from his lethal decision.  John the Baptist constantly preached the truth and the error of Herod’s marriage to his own sister-in-law.  But Herod turned a deaf ear!

So what about us?  What/who tempts us to the point of irrationality?  Who/what has become an obsession in our life that we lose any sense of reality or perspective?  What is it that distracts us from the Gospel message of peace and compassion?  Have we lost sight of the bigger picture? 

Great Spirit, shower me with your love and your wisdom!  Lead me on the right path and grant me the courage and strength to follow you and not my selfish desires.

Side Note!  The pic today displays the ruins of a community of Jewish ascetics called the Essenes who devoted their lives to writing and preserving sacred texts.  The Dead Sea Scrolls, oldest copies of the Old Testament ever found, were discovered in a cave nearby.  Tradition says John the Baptist may have spent some time here.


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