REFLECTION FOR TODAY
July 31, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” Matt. 14:1-2
Our gospel reference today speaks of the great impression John the Baptist had made on Herod who considered Jesus to be John the Baptist resurrected. Herod had John executed for speaking the truth and confronting him boldly.
The life, teaching and work of John had made a great impression on the king who had him killed. This is a testimony of the power of John’s life. John was being true to his calling when he went into the desert to learn to hear God’s voice. It was there he discovered he was to be the friend of the bridegroom, the one to pave the way for the Messiah.
Like John, we have been created for a unique purpose in life. The Holy Spirit will teach us what our mission is if we seek God through prayer, scripture, and the teachings of the Church. We can be like John by surrendering our hearts to advance the kingdom of God. John forfeited his whole life for this purpose and was beheaded by Herod.
Herod feared John, because he was aware he was a righteous and holy man and kept him in custody. Herod may have been a man who had a spark of faith but was ultimately ruled by his passions and desire for power. Perhaps that is why he initially kept John the Baptist alive in his prison.
It may also appear that Herod had some form of either regret or fear over his beheading of John. And it is most likely for this reason that Herod immediately thought of John when he initially heard of Jesus and the “mighty powers” that were at work within Him.
Regret, fear, and guilt are common effects of a conscience that is in conflict. Herod the tetrarch is a good example of what happens when we do not resolve that conflict within ourselves. The only way to resolve the interior confusion of a conflicted conscience is to humbly submit to the truth.
Imagine if Herod would have repented. Imagine if he would have sought out Jesus, confessed his sins, and begged for forgiveness. What a glorious story that would have been. Instead, we have the witness of a man who has gone astray and remained obstinate in his sin.
Reflect, today, upon this unholy witness of Herod. God can use all things for His glory, and He can even use the example of Herod to reveal to ourselves any similar tendency. Do you struggle with regret, fear, and guilt? Does this cause conflict within you? The good news is that this conflict is easily resolved by a humble heart that seeks the truth. Seek the truth by admitting any long-lasting sin you need to resolve and permit the mercy of God to enter in so as to set you free.
My Jesus, You desire that all people experience freedom from the sins of the past. You desire to penetrate our hearts and to bring resolution and peace. Please help me to open my mind and heart to You in the areas that still cause pain and regret and help me to be set free by Your infinite mercy. Jesus, I trust in You.