Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and to all the people, “This man deserves the sentence of death because he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.”
Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “It is the Lord who sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will change his mind about the disaster that he has pronounced against you. But as for me, here I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you. Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will be bringing innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its inhabitants, for in truth the Lord sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.”
Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, “This man does not deserve the sentence of death, for he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.”
But the hand of Ahikam son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah so that he was not given over into the hands of the people to be put to death.
Psalm 69: 14-15, 29-30, 32-33
from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
and from the deep waters.
Do not let the flood sweep over me,
or the deep swallow me up,
or the Pit close its mouth over me.
But I am lowly and in pain;
let your salvation, O God, protect me.
I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
Let the oppressed see it and be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
For the Lord hears the needy,
and does not despise his own that are in bonds.
At that time Herod the ruler heard reports about Jesus; and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been telling him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.
From the beginning of the Christian faith, people have been threatening, persecuting, and killing Christians by beheading. Starting with John the Baptist, the forerunner for Christ, all the way to Christians in the Middle East and Africa in recent years and current days, beheading is a physical manifestation of an evil attempt to separate the head from the body. It is an attempt to desecrate the body and soul by separating the two from one another. From the beginning of time, the devil has been trying the separate humans from God. As believers in Christ, though, we know that Jesus is the head and the believers are the body and nothing can separate us from the love of God.
In the first reading Jeremiah is on trial for prophesying against the city and the officials of the city want to put him to death for foretelling their destruction. Yet, Jeremiah stands his ground telling them he is sent by God and if they kill him they will have innocent blood on their hands but to amend their ways. His life is spared, but not without a fight. The psalmist cries to God to be rescued from being swallowed up and overtaken by his enemies. Finally, in the gospel, John the Baptist is beheaded for speaking out against sin.
The follower of Christ does not fear death or being killed by the world but is confident in the mission God has called him to carry out. He knows he does not live for this life but for eternal life in heaven and it does not matter what anyone says or does to him as he lives for Christ alone. He is unafraid because he knows God has given him a mission to spread the Kingdom of God on earth. Today, think about how is God calling you to die to yourself in order to live for him.