Friday of week 4 in Ordinary Time

Mark 6:14-29
The beheading of John the Baptist

King Herod had heard about Jesus, since by now his name was well known. Some were saying, ‘John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.’ Others said, ‘He is Elijah’; others again, ‘He is a prophet, like the prophets we used to have.’ But when Herod heard this he said, ‘It is John whose head I cut off; he has risen from the dead.’

Now it was this same Herod who had sent to have John arrested, and had him chained up in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife whom he had married. For John had told Herod, ‘It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife.’ As for Herodias, she was furious with him and wanted to kill him; but she was not able to, because Herod was afraid of John, knowing him to be a good and holy man, and gave him his protection. When he had heard him speak he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him.

An opportunity came on Herod’s birthday when he gave a banquet for the nobles of his court, for his army officers and for the leading figures in Galilee. When the daughter of this same Herodias came in and danced, she delighted Herod and his guests; so the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me anything you like and I will give it you.’ And he swore her an oath, ‘I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.’ She went out and said to her mother, ‘What shall I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of John the Baptist.’ The girl hurried straight back to the king and made her request, ‘I want you to give me John the Baptist’s head, here and now, on a dish.’ The king was deeply distressed but, thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, he was reluctant to break his word to her. So the king at once sent one of the bodyguard with orders to bring John’s head. The man went off and beheaded him in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard about this, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.


Ecclesiasticus 47:2-13
David sang out of love for his Maker

As the fat is set apart from the communion sacrifice,
so David was chosen out of all the sons of Israel.
He played with lions as though with kids,
and with bears as though with lambs of the flock.
While still a boy, did he not slay the giant,
and relieve the people of their shame,
by putting out a hand to sling a stone
which brought down the arrogance of Goliath?
For he called on the Lord Most High,
who gave strength to his right arm
to put a mighty warrior to death,
and lift up the horn of his people.
Hence they gave him credit for ten thousand,
and praised him while they blessed the Lord,
by offering him a crown of glory;
for he massacred enemies on every side,
he annihilated his foes the Philistines,
and crushed their horn to this very day.
In all his activities he gave thanks
to the Holy One, the Most High, in words of glory;
he put all his heart into his songs
out of love for his Maker.
He placed harps before the altar
to make the singing sweeter with their music;
he gave the feasts their splendour,
the festivals their solemn pomp,
causing the Lord’s holy name to be praised
and the sanctuary to resound from dawn.
The Lord took away his sins,
and exalted his horn for ever;
he gave him a royal covenant,
and a glorious throne in Israel.

Psalm 17(18):31,47,50-51
Praised be the God who saves me.

The ways of God are perfect;
the word of the Lord, purest gold.
He indeed is the shield
of all who make him their refuge.
Praised be the God who saves me.
Long life to the Lord, my rock!
Praised be the God who saves me,
so I will praise you, Lord, among the nations:
I will sing a psalm to your name.
Praised be the God who saves me.
He has given great victories to his king
and shown his love for his anointed,
for David and his sons for ever.
Praised be the God who saves me.

Source: Jerusalem Bible
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
The preparations

522 The coming of God’s Son to earth is an event of such immensity that God willed to prepare for it over centuries. He makes everything converge on Christ: all the rituals and sacrifices, figures and symbols of the “First Covenant”. He announces him through the mouths of the prophets who succeeded one another in Israel. Moreover, he awakens in the hearts of the pagans a dim expectation of this coming.

523 St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way. “Prophet of the Most High”, John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last. He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom”, whom he points out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. Going before Jesus “in the spirit and power of Elijah”, John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom.

524 When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”