The Gospel according to Luke (9:7-9)
Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead”; others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”; still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.” But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him.
There are many leaders and influencers who seem to lead such story-book lives. All appears as if they are living a dream, but we often find out it is more like a nightmare. They exemplify and profess a lifestyle that focuses on their pleasure, fame, and fortune because that is what makes the world go round. However, there is a great cost for that way of life. Often integrity and self-respect along with meaningful relationships are sacrificed and the emptiness of worldly things leads to plenty of dead ends. The worst-case scenario is a tortured soul that results in so much suffering.
Herod, in today’s gospel strikes me as a tortured soul. As a person of wealth and influence he enjoyed many of the excesses his position gave him access to. Yet he was intrigued by John the Baptist. It’s says in chapter six of Mark’s gospel that Herod thought John was a holy man, was perplexed by what he said, yet liked to listen to him. So here is a man, Herod, living a life of pleasure, driven by earthly desires who recognized that there is something significant and potentially meaningful in what John said. And even though he had him killed it seemed that John’s influence was still present. I imagine this conflict within Herod was like being trapped in a dark place and seeing a light that seems to be too far out of reach. Maybe there is a feeling of chaos while trying to pretend all is well and finding a source of peace that seems unrealistic. The soul is tortured by what is and what could be as two worlds collide.
Is there a part of our life that is in conflict? Something that has a hold on us keeping us from the light and grace of God. We can be like Herod. Maybe not in scope and scale but we all struggle with sin. Thank God, that like Herod we can recognize the light and peace of Christ. We recognize the voice of our Shepard when he calls to us. And no matter how far we stray he is there to rescue us. All we must do is repent and run back into the arms of the one who is slow to anger, rich in kindness, and full of mercy.
So, let’s take a cue from Herod at the very end of this reading. It says he kept trying to see Jesus. For what reason we don’t know but what we do know is the pursuit of Jesus leads to the Father. And isn’t that what we hope and pray for?
Action of the day:
Our journey home is not easy. There are many pit falls and challenges. Our story of conversion does not happen once but everyday. We must strive and persevere daily to pick up our cross and follow him. Pray for the grace to see, desire, and follow God’s will. We have the assurance that God, like the Prodigal Father, waits for us every and any time we are far away.