Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
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King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” …But when Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”
Herod liked John. I have always found Herod to be a man way ahead of his time. He is easily relatable among the New Testament figures and by far the most “modern” in his thoughts and actions: Young and powerful. Money hungry. Power hungry. Vane. Easily persuaded. Easily seduced. And most likely addicted to drugs and alcohol.
But Herod had a soft spot for religion and was intrigued by John the Baptist. We are told he enjoyed listening to him. But why? What was the Baptist saying? Most likely what Herod’s closest aides did not have the courage to say: the truth.
Herod liked John. And I think if John had had a little more time with him, then things would have turned out for good. I believe Herod was at a tipping point, and Herodias knew it, that is why she moved in for the kill. She knew his weak spot, his pride and lust, and she took advantage of it.
Before friends and dignitaries, Herod made a promise to his step-daughter, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you… even to half of my kingdom.”
The trap had been set. The wolf in sheep’s clothing was let loose. The lamb in camel’s hair was led to the slaughter.
The truth requires time. Lies require quick thinking. When will we learn from our past mistakes? When will we learn from our ancestors mistakes?
He blew his chance. Herod came so close to discovering the Gospel of Life, the Gospel of Truth, the Gospel of Joy. He even had the greatest prophet of the greatest man in the world in his own home, albeit in his basement, locked up and hidden away.
How could Herod have been so…? You fill in the blank. But we know his life would have been so different if he had listened to John, and not his wife! We know his reputation would have grown to legendary proportions if he had said to the Lord, and not his daughter, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” Chances are Christ would have told him what he told another rich young man: Sell all that you have, give the money to the poor, and come follow me. How inspiring would that have been? I know Herod had it in him. He was crazy enough to do it.
At the same time, let’s not forget how far John got. He actually made it – worked his way – into the King’s palace! Did he get in trouble on purpose? Did he say what he said with a goal in mind? Did he do whatever it took to get into the palace and next to the King? I think so. And maybe St. Paul followed his example when he said and did all that he could to get to Rome and appear before the emperor.
I feel for Herod. He became far too comfortable in his massive castle and lost his manliness when he received his crown. I think he grew fond of John because he reminded him of his younger days, when fearlessness and “manliness” were supreme.
Hey, you don’t get to be king by sitting on your hands.
Has this happened to me?
John was fearless and manly because he was Godly. Hey, you don’t get to heaven by sitting on your hands either.
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