This is a syndicated post from Daily Meditations with Fr. Alfonse. [Read the original article...]
Thursday of the Twenty-Fifth Week In Ordinary Time
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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”…But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”
Even to this day, like Herod, far too many people remain perplexed at the person of Jesus Christ.
On September 11th, 2013, the Italian left-wing newspaper La Repubblica published a letter by Pope Francis. This letter was a response to an open letter by the newspaper’s founder and editor, Dr. Eugenio Scalfari, who describes himself as “a non-believer for many years interested and fascinated by the preaching of Jesus of Nazareth.” He had not expected the pope to respond “so extensively and so affectionately, with such fraternal spirit”.
Wow. What a great response from an agnostic. It’s so unlike their distant relatives, the atheists. Unfortunately, we see many influential atheists, like militant Muslims, infected by harshness and hardness that makes affectionate or even fraternal dialogue next to impossible to have and common ground nearly impossible to find.
People don’t rise from the dead. Exactly. Men, women and children just don’t rise from the dead. But Jesus was not just a man. At least He did not claim to be just a man. He actually claimed to be the Son of Man and God. So, could the Son of God rise from the dead? As reasonable and rational beings Christians are, we believe He most definitely could.
Herod, the Intelligent. Herod was no dummy. He knew how to handle people. In fact, he knew how to strike fear into people. He had not climbed up the political ladder by being friendly. No, no. He knew how to chop off heads, and he was not about to risk losing his own. So he had the Baptist put to death. But something happened. Something he never thought would happen. He kept hearing the Baptist’s voice. And it baffled him.
Who then is this about whom I hear such things?
Herod kept trying to see him. Animals are very satisfied with what they have. A good kill silences the stomach. A good night sleep squashes the weariness. A good drink quenches the thirst. And so on.
However, when it comes to human beings, well, we are not so easily satisfied. Just today, I met with a young man who is suffering from a restless heart. He thought being married would make him happy. It did, but not enough. He thought having a family would satisfy him. It did, but not exactly the way he thought it would. He thought running his own business and having a successful career would make him very happy. It does, but it is not deep enough for him. He said,“Mission statements are not deep enough for me, Father. I need more. What is wrong with me?”
“Nothing!”, I said. “Earth is not heaven. Welcome to the limits of the physical – material – world. What you are experiencing is nothing new. It is actually a blessing! So many people spend a lifetime climbing up the wrong “trees”, hoping to find meaning and satisfaction. You, on the other hand, have learned this important lesson. Satisfaction does not come from the accumulation of things or achievements. It comes from meaning. And I can assure you that you will never be satisfied until your heart rest’s in Christ.”
“You are seeking meaning in your life. Only God can give you true meaning and true life.”
I had met this young man many times before, and every time we met, I would ask him if he was taking the time to do his meditation. He said reading the readings of the day did not always inspire him. I opened up my Magnificat and read him today’s first reading:
“Now thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways! You have sown much, but have brought in little; you have eaten, but have not been satisfied; you have drunk, but have not been exhilarated; have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed; And whoever earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it” (Hag. 1:5-6).
His mouth dropped to the floor.
I continued: “Consider your ways! Go up into the hill country; bring timber, and build the house that I may take pleasure in it and receive my glory, says the Lord” (Hag 1:7-8).
Herod kept trying to see Jesus. But for what? To put him to death, like another Herod attempted to do long ago? Why did he want to see Jesus? To measure him up? To look him up and down?
How silly of him! How silly are those who try to reduce the true nature of things to simply physical measurements and/or scientific investigation. If we were to measure up someone according to these standards, then we would fail to comprehend the Napoleon Bonapartes and Mother Teresas of the world; that is, the saints and sinners of the world.
Dr. Eugenio Scalfari is interested in the person of Jesus Christ. He continues to be fascinated by his words and deeds.
Who does he see in them? Who do you see? (91)