Our Gospel this morning centers on Herod the ruler. Herod is not doing well. He is perplexed. He is hearing all sorts of things about Jesus. He has no idea who Jesus really is or what Jesus is capable of. Jesus might be a serious threat to his power. This scares Herod.
At the end of our Gospel this morning, Herod makes an important decision. Herod decides he has heard enough about Jesus and now wants to see Jesus directly. While I do not recommend modeling your life on Herod, there is something we can learn from what he does here. I firmly believe we can always learn something from someone we consider evil or toxic, and Herod is no exception.
Like Herod, we are all going to hear all sort of things about Jesus. This is especially true if you go to church or are like me and live in a monastery. I hear about Jesus all the time. As good as that is, at a certain point, like Herod, we all want to cut through the noise and meet Jesus directly.
This is Herod Antipas, who was the instrument of death for both John the Baptist and ultimately, for Jesus himself. Herod was a massively powerful Jewish puppet, appointed by Rome. His job was to maintain the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome, the status quo, to which Jesus was a threat. Jesus was a Jewish nobody from nowhere… but people were listening to him and following him, and that was a political problem. Herod’s family cast a wide shadow over Jesus since the day of his birth. It had been Herod the Great who was responsible both for Joseph and Mary’s fleeing for safety to Egypt with their infant child. This same Herod was also responsible for the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, his in-vain attempt to exterminate this promising newborn, Jesus.