The Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major
The Council of Ephesus in 431 formally proclaimed the mother of Jesus as the Mother of God, and the church (basilica) of St Mary Major on the Esquiline Hill in Rome was built shortly afterwards to celebrate her motherhood. This is the oldest church in the West that is dedicated to Our Lady.
Entrance Antiphon: Cf. Ps 67: 6-7, 36
God is in his holy place, God who unites those who dwell in his house; he himself gives might and strength to his people.
O God, protector of those who hope in you, without whom nothing has firm foundation, nothing is holy, bestow in abundance your mercy upon us and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may use the good things that pass in such a way as to hold fast even now to those that ever endure. 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: Leviticus 25:1,8-17
The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai. He said: “You are to count seven weeks of years – seven times seven years, that is to say a period of seven weeks of years, forty-nine years. And on the tenth day of the seventh month you shall sound the trumpet; on the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout the land. You will declare this fiftieth year sacred and proclaim the liberation of all the inhabitants of the land. This is to be a jubilee for you; each of you will return to his ancestral home, each to his own clan. This fiftieth year is to be a jubilee year for you: you will not sow, you will not harvest the ungathered corn, you will not gather from the untrimmed vine. The jubilee is to be a holy thing to you, you will eat what comes from the fields. In this year of jubilee each of you is to return to his ancestral home. If you buy or sell with your neighbour, let no one wrong his brother. If you buy from your neighbour, this must take into account the number of years since the jubilee: according to the number of productive years he will fix the price. The greater the number of years, the higher shall be the price demanded; the less the number of years, the greater the reduction; for what he is selling you is a certain number of harvests. Let none of you wrong his neighbour, but fear your God; I am the Lord your God.”
R/ Let the peoples praise you, O God, let all the peoples praise you.
O God, be gracious and bless us and let your face shed its light upon us. So will your ways be known upon earth and all nations learn your saving help.
Let the nations be glad and exult for you rule the world with justice. With fairness you rule the peoples, you guide the nations on earth.
The earth has yielded its fruit for God, our God, has blessed us. May God still give us his blessing till the ends of the earth revere him.
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
Accept, O Lord, we pray, the offerings which we bring from the abundance of your gifts, that through the powerful working of your grace these most sacred mysteries may sanctify our present way of life and lead us to eternal gladness. Through Christ our Lord.
Communion Antiphon: Ps 102: 2
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all his benefits.
Prayer after Communion
We have consumed, O Lord, this divine Sacrament, the perpetual memorial of the Passion of your Son; grant, we pray, that this gift, which he himself gave us with love beyond all telling, may profit us for salvation. Through Christ our Lord.
With whom will I identify? With John the Baptist, fearless defender of the truth? Or with Herod who, driven by public opinion and his own interests, compromised justice and truth? All of us can think of times when we have compromised with what we knew to be the right thing to do, and taken the easy way out. John offers us an example of integrity. And, like him, each of us has been called, in our own way, in what we are, in what we do, and with God’s grace, to be prophets, spokespersons for God and for God’s way; a task which is not always easy.