August 4

St Jean-Baptiste Vianney, Curé of Ars (1786 – 1859)

He was the son of a peasant farmer, and a slow and unpromising candidate for the priesthood. He was eventually ordained on account of his devoutness rather than any achievement or promise. He was a noted preacher, and a celebrated confessor.

Entrance Antiphon:Cf. Ps 131: 9

Your priests, O Lord, shall be clothed with justice; your holy ones shall ring out their joy.

Collect

Almighty and merciful God, who made the Priest, Saint John Vianney, wonderful in his pastoral zeal, grant, we pray, that through his intercession and example, we may in charity win brothers and sisters for Christ and attain with them eternal glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

First reading Jeremiah 26:11-16,24

The priests and prophets addressed the officials and all the people, ‘This man deserves to die, since he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.’ Jeremiah, however, replied to the people as follows: ‘The Lord himself sent me to say all the things you have heard against this Temple and this city. So now amend your behaviour and actions, listen to the voice of the Lord your God: if you do, he will relent and not bring down on you the disaster he has pronounced against you. For myself, I am as you see in your hands. Do whatever you please or think right with me. But be sure of this, that if you put me to death, you will be bringing innocent blood on yourselves, on this city and on its citizens, since the Lord has truly sent me to you to say all these words in your hearing.’ The officials and all the people then said to the priests and prophets, ‘This man does not deserve to die: he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.’ Jeremiah had a protector in Ahikam son of Shaphan, so he was not handed over to the people to be put to death.

Psalm 68:15-16,30-31,33-34

R/In your great love, answer me, O God.

  1. Rescue me from sinking in the mud; save me from my foes. Save me from the waters of the deep lest the waves overwhelm me. Do not let the deep engulf me nor death close its mouth on me.
  2. As for me in my poverty and pain let your help, O God, lift me up. I will praise God’s name with a song; I will glorify him with thanksgiving.
  3. The poor when they see it will be glad and God-seeking hearts will revive; for the Lord listens to the needy and does not spurn his servants in their chains.

Gospel Acclamation: cf.Lk8:15

Alleluia, alleluia! Blessed are those who,  with a noble and generous heart, take the word of God to themselves and yield a harvest through their perseverance. Alleluia!

Gospel: Matthew 14:1-12

Herod the tetrarch heard about the reputation of Jesus, and said to his court, ‘This is John the Baptist himself; he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.’ Now it was Herod who had arrested John, chained him up and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. For John had told him, ‘It is against the Law for you to have her.’ He had wanted to kill him but was afraid of the people, who regarded John as a prophet. Then, during the celebrations for Herod’s birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and so delighted Herod that he promised on oath to give her anything she asked. Prompted by her mother she said, ‘Give me John the Baptist’s head,  here, on a dish.’ The king was distressed but, thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, he ordered it to be given her, and sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought in on a dish and given to the girl who took it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went off to tell Jesus.

Prayer over the Offerings

Receive, O Lord, we pray, the offerings placed on your altar in commemoration of Saint John Mary Vianney, so that, as you brought him glory, you may, through these sacred mysteries, grant to us your pardon. Through Christ our Lord.

Communion Antiphon:Cf. Mt 24: 46-47

Blessed is the servant whom the Lord finds watching when he comes. Amen I say to you: He will put that servant in charge of all his property.

Prayer after Communion

May partaking at the heavenly table, almighty God, confirm and increase strength from on high in all who celebrate the feast day of Saint John Mary Vianney, that we may preserve in integrity the gift of faith and walk in the path of salvation you trace for us. Through Christ our Lord.

Reflection

The priests and prophets try to convince the officials and all the people that Jeremiah deserves to die because he has prophesied against their city. Jeremiah, on his part, remains firm and steadfast to the message Yahweh had told him to prophesy to the people of Israel. He insists on the truth of this message that the people should listen to the voice of Yahweh in order to be saved. Yahweh teaches us that he who is not with him cannot be saved and no one can hurt us if we are determined to do only what is right (1Pt. 3:13). In the Gospel, John the Baptist is beheaded because of the truth he stands for – that Herod is not supposed to marry Philip’s wife who is his brother. We should therefore keep speaking the truth even if it may cause us harm. Also, we should not make promises which are difficult to keep as in the case with Herod and his daughter.