August 29, 2000
volume 11, no. 154

LITURGY for Tuesday and Wednesday, August 29-30, 2000

Tuesday, August 29, 2000

      First Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2: 1-3, 14-17
      Psalms: Psalm 96: 10-13
      Gospel Reading: Mark 6: 17-29
Feast of the Marytrdom of Saint John the Baptist
        The first martyrdom of the New Testament is attributed to Saint John the Baptist who was beheaded by Herod at the urging of Herodius' daughter Salome who demanded the head of the baptist on a plate (cf. Matthew 14: 1-12). John had been thrown in prison because he would not reneg on his assertion that Herod could not marry his brother's wife Herodius, "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife" (Mark 6: 18). Herod had feared doing anything to John for he knew John was a just and holy man and there would be great repercussions if any harm came to the man they called "the Baptist." But in a weak, lustful moment Herod backed himself into a corner by granting Salome anything she wanted and Herodius talked her into demanding that John be beheaded. Though Herod did not want to do this, he would be publicly humiliated if he went back on his promise and therefore relented. Within moments he commanded the executioner to do the dastardly deed and shortly thereafter presented the decapitated head on a dish to Salome who immediately discarded it, giving it to her mother Herodius who had gotten her temporal revenge but would be forever condemned. When the disciples heard of this they came and took John's body away and gave him a proper burial as Jesus wept. John's skull was venerated in a Samarian crypt where the skull was discovered around the 4th Century. The feast of his martyrdom was first celebrated in the East a century later and then in the 7th Century celebrated by Rome for the universal Church as the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. There are reports that John's skull was moved to the church of St. Sylvester in Rome, but this cannot be fully authenticated.

Wednesday, August 30, 2000

      First Reading: 2 Thessalonians 3: 6-10, 16-18
      Psalms: Psalm 129: 1-2, 4-5
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 12: 27-32

August 29, 2000
volume 11, no. 154

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