The Example of Herod

“This may be the only time you hear this,” said the celebrant at yesterday’s noon Mass at the Law School, Fr. Erich Rutten (head of UST Campus Ministry), “but we should all follow the example of Herod.”

Out of context, the line seems strange – who would ever think of Herod of an example for Christian disciples? But in the context of yesterday’s Gospel from St Luke, the line made some sense.

Luke tells us that Herod “kept trying to see” Jesus. He had been hearing stories about this Jesus and wondered who was this person he kept hearing about. And so he “kept trying to see him.”

It was the persistent looking for Jesus that Fr. Erich was encouraging us to emulate. And he is certainly right that it is important for us to keep looking for Jesus in all of the ways He might appear to us. But as Fr. Erich was speaking, it occurred to me that there was another way Herod might be useful to us.

I have often had people say to me that they have looked for God and not found him. Or they’ve asked God something and gotten no answer.

Thinking of Herod in that situation might be useful. Why was it that Herod kept looking for Jesus and never found him? And answering that question might help us see whether there are ways we are like Herod – like him in ways that make it difficult for us to see Jesus.

Herod wanted to see Jesus, but did he really want Jesus to transform him? I think of Herod, who liked listening to John – who knew there was something there – but still executed him to save face with his friends. Herod, who wanted to see Jesus, but was comfortable in the life he had.

Are there ways we are like Herod? Good question to ask yourself.