Usually the first reading and the Gospel compliment each other–today they contrast each other. The first reading continues an account which was begun yesterday. In it, Jeremiah speaks the word of the Lord which means doom for the people unless they convert. At first, they resolved to put him to death, but then they recognize that Jeremiah indeed speaks in the name of the Lord. This contrasts with today’s Gospel where we hear the account of the beheading of John the Baptist. John the Baptist was put to death by Herod the tetrarch because he preached the truth about the sanctity of marriage–a truth which was not reflected in Herod’s life. Instead of repenting and cleansing his conscience, Herod tries to deafen it by killing John the Baptist. The lesson for us is this: not everyone will accept the truth we speak. This does not mean we should not speak the truth. On the contrary, we should be prepared to unite ourselves to Our Lord and St John the Baptist by suffering.