17th Week in Ord. Time, Saturday – 1st August 2020 — Gospel: Mt 14,1-12
Triggered by Jesus’ presence
Herod’s interest in Jesus leads to the flashback that occupies most of the present account (14,3-12). As Herod hears the news about Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, he is convinced that Jesus is John the Baptist raised from the dead. Herod’s strange and guilt-ridden conclusion underlines the link between the lives and deaths of John and Jesus. The message and the destiny of John and Jesus are inseparably linked. Both preach repentance and the coming of God’s kingdom, both experience ridicule and rejection (11,18-19), and both are ultimately arrested and put to death by the ruling powers. Herod’s reluctance to execute John anticipates Pilate’s reluctance to have Jesus put to death. Although beheading was not as cruel and nasty as crucifixion, it was nevertheless a shameful way to die. As the gospel portrays John’s death as a prophet at the hands of a corrupt tyrant, intermingling of John with Jesus anticipates a similar martyrdom that awaits Jesus, the Messiah. Furthermore, Herod’s mistaken speculation that Jesus is John the Baptist raised from the dead ironically points to the truth that even violent death cannot silence the voice of either John or Jesus.