February 3, 2023
by Suzanne Braddock
Creighton University - Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 327

Hebrew 13:1-8
Psalms 27:1, 3, 5, 8b-9abc
Mark 6:14-29

Praying Ordinary Time

Prayer for the Blessing of Throats:

"Through the intercession of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. "

The readings for today seem to me to contrast promises made to us by the Lord with promises made from questionable human motives.

The first reading from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews spells out several admonitions designed to let us live a just life free of fear and secure in the Lord’s love. God’s promises to us : ”I will never forsake you or abandon you” allow us to  respond: “The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?”

Even if we fail to live up to these rules for just living, we are assured of the Lord’s never failing love. We can be secure in His love, no matter what. No room for fear, no matter what.

The psalm reiterates the reassurance – “the Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear. Though war be waged upon me, even then will I trust.”  The psalm goes on to spell out the various ways the Lord will protect us- hiding us, concealing us, placing us high on a rock. It would seem that the Lord will protect us from man and beast and storms and floods in this manner, and my mind goes to the current horrors of climate change and senseless wars. Yes, He will protect us even then. And yes, sudden and unexpected death will still occur, but my hope is those who suffer this fate will know the eternal protection of the Lord.

Reflecting on the gospel, I wondered if John the Baptist had that psalm on his lips as he was beheaded. Herod certainly suffered regret and conflict when he made his rash promise to his daughter to give her anything she wanted, so entranced was he by her dancing. Social pressure made him agree to give her the head of John the Baptist on a plate. A promise made in front of his delighted guests could not be refused or he would lose face. He also liked to listen to what John was saying . So when Jesus became famous for his preaching and healings, Herod wondered if he was John raised up again. I’m sure his rash promise, made and upheld for all the wrong reasons, surely tormented him.

In response to the readings,  I ponder how I can live up to the admonitions Paul outlines for us –“ let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels” – are just the first of many good rules for living. In this time of pandemic it may be hard for me to entertain visitors, but I can greet all I meet with a smile and a kind word. I can ask their name and use it. Perhaps the bus driver, the fellow parishioner, the nurse in the doctor’s office, the man who hauls garbage, the night cleaning person in my office. So many unnamed people who can be warmed by a little recognition of their worth.  And make my promises sincere and follow up on them!

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