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Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

You could claim that today's First Reading is the bleakest and most pessimistic passage in the entire Bible. Although the author believed in God, he was of the view that it is impossible to make much sense of life. He saw life as vanity. The Hebrew word he used means a breath. By this word he wished to say that life is something fleeting and transitory. In other words, there is nothing to life.
We can best understand this passage by looking at life without God, especially without the revelation of Jesus Christ. By becoming man He showed that there is a deep value to human existence. Most of us lead simple lives which will not change the course of history as do presidents and dictators. We go to our work, eat and sleep, have a little free time for the honest pleasures of life, and before we know it our allotted time on this Earth will have passed! Our names will not be recorded in history books. But nevertheless, we are in God’s heart. Our names have been carved upon the palm of His hands.

During a Wembley Cup Final at half time there was a display of gymnastics given by some youngsters. Most of the people there never bothered to watch. What the boys were doing could not compare with the play of the professionals whom the fans had come to watch. But to one young couple the actions of a 12 year old on the field was vastly more important than the outcome of the match. He was their son.

Let us never forget that we are God's children, made in the image of His divine Son Who became human. He loves us more dearly than that couple loved their 12 year old. He takes delight in us just as He took delight in the life of His Son Jesus. What really counts is not just what we do, but who we are.

In the Gospel, although St. John the Baptist has died, he is still witnessing to Christ. He speaks loudly and clearly to us today. Like him we, too, have a purpose in life. We are called to take up his prophetic mantle. He began the race, we must finish. How are we to do this? Ironically, Herod can give us some insight into this. Very much a man of the world, what he wanted he got - he was wealthy and self-indulgent but morally loose and spiritually lost. He was both attracted and repelled by Christ and John. He was fascinated and curious about Jesus.

Many today are just like Herod. They have power, authority, money and are self-indulgent. They are morally loose and spiritually lost. Like Herod they are both repelled and attracted by Christ. Like Herod they are both attracted and repelled by Christ. Like Herod there are things they like about Christ and things they don’t. But there are no half measures with Christ. He is the key to human existence. It is He who gives us a purpose for living. To accept Him is to live, not to go along with Him or be indifferent of Him is to lose out on God's life.

Lord Jesus, our life may be like a breath, but it is by loving and serving You that we have a purpose in life. With Your help we can live life to the full.

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