Saturday of the 17th week of Ordinary Time

Lectionary #406

Herod the ruler heard reports about Jesus; and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.”

Herod Antipas, the nephew of King Herod, was not only a despicable character; he was a craven coward. In today’s gospel Saint Matthew enumerates all his fears: ghosts, his wife, the crowds, his guests and a little girl. Driven by anxiety he has no choice but to kill the only man who ever spoke the truth to him.

Cowardice accompanies power. The powerful always want more power; they dread nothing so much as losing what they have.

·        Given a taste for power, many politicians readily compromise their principles and their constituents to garner more power.

·        Driven by the cross currents of fear and greed, stock brokers run for cover at even a small hiccough in that empyreal god, “The Economy”. But when Fortuna smiles again they emerge to grab more profits.

·        Although money is only a fluid like water, gas and electricity, bankers forget their business is a utility. They should protect our currency while enabling the current to flow. They are not commissioned to profit off the life savings of working people; but control gives them power and power makes them sick with greed and fear.

Faith teaches us to fear only the Lord. That is a good fear. Come my children and I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

A fellow asked me about that phrase after Mass one morning. I asked him, “Are you married?” 
“Forty-three years!” he replied.
“Do you ever cross your wife?” I asked.
“Never!” he said, laughed and walked away.

If you love someone intensely, with all your heart, if you abide in the world with that person, weathering sweltering heat, blizzards and mild summer days together, you know better than recklessly to frustrate her. What can be gained by such foolishness?

But those who do not fear the Lord live in dread. They have nothing and no one to count on. Instinctively they know their lives are nothing more than foam on a troubled sea. In an instant they can be obliterated; in two instants, forgotten. 

Herod Antipas was such a man; except for his association with John and Jesus no one would remember him. As it is, we remember only a character in someone else’s drama, a frightened wraith who never became a man.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.