“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” - Plato
Gospel text: (LK 9:7-9)
Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening,
and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying,
“John has been raised from the dead”;
others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”;
still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.”
But Herod said, “John I beheaded.
Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”
And he kept trying to see him.
Sometimes, confusion and curiosity are moments of great importance for us. In the case of the gospel today, Herod becomes both curious and threatened. Sometimes, that's what happens to us. We hear about Jesus, and we hear about various things he says and does, and we are very curious. At times, we are also confused and threatened. The closer Jesus comes to us, to our hearts, the more likely it will be that we will be vulnerable to putting up some defenses. The questions come up, "What will this cost me? What will I have to change?" Sometimes it is easy to deflect the whole encounter with a simple defense, like, "Oh, I'm doing a lot already. I pray every day. I ..."
Sometimes, we have this paradoxical attraction to Jesus and, at the same time, an arms length relationship with him. We let him be our Savior, as long as we don't get too close to that reality - that he died for my sins and won for me freedom from my sin and death, earning me the gift of eternal life. We hear what he says in the gospels, and accept it, as long as it doesn't really result in my choosing to not judge others, die to myself, loving my enemies, turning the other cheek, taking up my cross with him, for others. We turn to him in prayer, and are grateful, usually, as long as our prayers are answered, even though we rarely ask to be transformed in our loving others who don't love us back, in our giving of ourselves to dismantle unjust social structures, in our complete trust in the gift of eternal life.
This brief encounter with Herod's curiosity with Jesus can be a powerful invitation to us all to open our hearts to a deeper relationship with Jesus, right where we are, right in the midst of discovering our defenses, our fears, and our distrust.