“Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus, 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.’” (Matthew 14:1-2)
Jeremiah and John the Baptist had something in common; they were not afraid of the establishment, they were not afraid of people, they spoke the truth and were willing to die in defence of the truth. Jeremiah was a young prophet when he had to confront an assembly of priests and prophets who were far ahead of him in age. John the Baptist also was probably in his thirties and he faced Herod, the king, to tell him it was not lawful for him to take his brother’s wife and be living in an adulterous manner.
Prophesying is not the same thing as giving a merely motivational speech. There is an aspect of prophecy that clearly brings discomfort to its listeners. Preaching truth is not easy. Anyone determined to take this path must be prepared for death. And this persecution surprisingly does not always come from unbelievers (outsiders to the faith).
Persecution also comes from within; from the very persons who ordinarily appear to be closer to God. This is the scandal we see in the case of Jeremiah. While the prophets and priests “sentenced him to death,” the princes (civil authorities) were the ones who came to Jeremiah’s defence. What an irony!
In our society today, there are too many Herods who believe they can do anything, take any woman or man they want, tell any lie; steal any amount they wish to, etc. They even brag saying nobody, not even the Supreme Court can stop them. Like Herod, they may kill the body but they can never kill the truth.
Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Alphonsus Maria de’Ligori, the founder of the Order of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists). He was an Italian Catholic Bishop, spiritual writer, composer, musician, artist, poet, lawyer, scholastic philosopher and theologian. He was born on 27th of September, 1696 and died on this day 1st of August, 1787 at Pagini, in Italy.
Amongst his favourite quotes include: Acquire the habit of speaking to God as if you were alone with Him, familiarly and with confidence and love, as to the dearest and most loving of friends. Your God is ever beside you – indeed, He is even within you.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, if saying the truth means death for me, teach me to die properly. Amen.
Bible Study: Jeremiah 26:11-24, Psalm 69:15-34, Matthew 14:1-12).