Thursday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(Haggai 1:1-8; Luke 9:7-9)
We should not take satisfaction in Herod's recognizing Jesus as we might have done when Bill Clinton named Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Herod the tetrarch is an adulterer, a spy, and an assassin. The evangelist Luke mentions him here not to show how Jesus is attracting attention on high, but to indicate that storm clouds are gathering over his head. Like John the Baptist Jesus too will soon face martyrdom.
Herod also serves the evangelist’s intention by asking the critical question, “Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” Like John, Jesus is a powerful preacher calling people to righteousness. Like Elias, he works wonders that demonstrate his divine mission. But what else might he be? In a world with so many distracting allurements we need to continually keep the correct answer to Herod’s question in our consciousness. As Peter proclaims after the Pentecost event, Jesus is “Lord and Messiah.” This means for us that he is God who came to rescue us from our sinful tendencies and to lead us on the way to eternal life.