Tuesday 29 AUGUST

by | Aug 28, 2023 | Evangelium

The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist

John the Baptist is the only saint in the calendar (apart from St Joseph) who has two feasts to himself. One, in August, celebrates his death, and one, in June, celebrates his birth. And this is as it should be, for as Christ himself said, John was the greatest of the sons of men.

Entrance Antiphon: Cf. Ps 118: 46-47

I spoke, O Lord, of your decrees before kings, and was not confounded; I pondered your commands and loved them greatly.


O God, who willed that Saint John the Baptist should go ahead of your Son both in his birth and in his death, grant that, as he died a Martyr for truth and justice, we too may fight hard for the confession of what you teach. 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: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

You know yourselves, my brothers, that our visit to you has not proved ineffectual. We had, as you know, been given rough treatment and been grossly insulted at Philippi, and it was our God who gave us the courage to proclaim his Good News to you in the face of great opposition. We have not taken to preaching because we are deluded, or immoral, or trying to deceive anyone; it was God who decided that we were fit to be entrusted with the Good News, and when we are speaking, we are not trying to please men but God, who can read our inmost thoughts. You know very well, and we can swear it before God, that never at any time have our speeches been simply flattery, or a cover for trying to get money; nor have we ever looked for any special honour from men, either from you or anybody else, when we could have imposed ourselves on you with full weight, as apostles of Christ. Instead, we were unassuming. Like a mother feeding and looking after her own children, we felt so devoted and protective towards you, and had come to love you so much, that we were eager to hand over to you not only the Good News but our whole lives as well.

Psalm 138(139):1-3,4-6

R/ O Lord, you search me and you know me.

O Lord, you search me and you know me, you know my resting and my rising, you discern my purpose from afar.

You mark when I walk or lie down, all my ways lie open to you. Before ever a word is on my tongue you know it, O Lord, through and through.

Behind and before you besiege me, your hand ever laid upon me. Too wonderful for me this knowledge, too high, beyond my reach.

Gospel Acclamation: Mt5:10 

Alleluia, alleluia! Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Alleluia!

Gospel: Mark 6:17-29           

Herod 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.

Prayer over the Offerings       

Through these offerings which we bring you, O Lord, grant that we may make straight your paths, as taught by that voice crying in the desert, Saint John the Baptist, who powerfully sealed his teaching by the shedding of his blood. Through Christ our Lord.

Communion Antiphon: Jn 3:27,30        

John answered and said: He must increase; but I must decrease.

Prayer after Communion       

Grant, O Lord, as we celebrate the heavenly birth of Saint John the Baptist, that we may revere, for what it signifies, the saving Sacrament we have received and, even more, may rejoice at its clear effects in us. Through Christ our Lord.


John, the forerunner of Jesus, preceded his Lord even in death. Like Jesus, he was put to death by his powerful enemies who found his words too dangerous. This man, seemingly without power, without property, without freedom, possessed the power of truth. Today, human life is so undervalued that many, like John the Baptist, are killed for the slightest reason. We have had to contemplate, and we still contemplate today with bitterness, so much gratuitous violence in our world; may the sufferings of the victims move hearts and arouse souls of good will in their defence.