Thursday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
It is no secret that Herod was not a humble man. Not only was he a proud man, but he was also a powerful one, second only to Rome’s local might. Only a few weeks ago we remembered the Beheading of John the Baptist, how Herod had kept Jesus’ cousin in prison. This he did at his wife’s request since the prophet had offended her, pointing out the unlawful nature of her marriage to the Tetrarch. But the ruler was curious about John and liked listening to him, so he did him no further harm until his birthday when he proudly made a foolish promise to his daughter. And so he lost his curious pet prophet.
Yet today’s Gospel has him questioning his rash action, for where John fell another has arisen. Who is this Jesus who goes around performing miracles and preaching so boldly? Later in Luke’s Gospel we learn that Herod greatly desired to see Jesus perform a miracle (23:8), but never gets his chance.
Why all the near-misses with the Truth? Imagine having been so blessed as to have heard the preaching of John the Baptist and then having an opportunity, should you have pursued it, to hear the preaching of Christ! Imagine had Herod been a convert to the faith. But he had not the humility to be a child of God: he saw himself as greater than all, he showed no mercy to others, he heard the Word of God but did not act upon it and he relied not upon God but upon his own wealth and power, destroying any who stood against him. He kept trying to see Jesus, but even when He stood before Herod it was as if the tetrarch was blind. This is because we do not come to know Jesus by what we see, but rather what we hear in the depth of our heart, when the very Word of God enters our heart and finds a home: is this not, in short, the mystery we encounter in the Eucharist? We see, taste nor touch the Christ we long for but we believe what we have heard: “This is my Body…this is my Blood.” Herod’s heart was too occupied with himself to hear the truth, too full for Jesus to find room: a palace of pride rather than a manger of meekness.
Let us, then, ask for the Lord’s help in preparing room for Him in our hearts. When we keep “trying to see Him” and wonder “where” He is, let us instead seek to hear His voice and let that transformative Word reach our heart where, by our subsequent response, that Word might become flesh in this needy world.