Thursday, September 27, 2018
Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul
Friends, in today’s Gospel we see Herod interested in and perplexed by Jesus. Political rulers don’t come across well in the New Testament. In Luke’s Christmas account, Caesar Augustus is compared very unfavorably to the Christ child. And in Matthew’s account that child is hunted down by the desperate Herod. Later, Herod’s son persecutes John the Baptist and Jesus himself. More to it, the Jewish authorities are seen in all of the Gospels as corrupt.
And Pontius Pilate is a typical Roman governor: efficient, concerned for order, brutal. Like the other rulers of the time, he perceives Jesus, quite correctly, as a threat. “So you are a king?” Pilate asks. Jesus says, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.”
This does not mean that Jesus is unconcerned for the realities of politics, with the very “this-worldly” concerns of justice, peace, and right order. When he speaks of his kingdom not belonging to the “world,” he shades the negative side of that term. The “world” is the realm of sin, selfishness, hatred, violence. What he is saying is that his way of ordering things is not typical of worldly powers like Pilate, Caesar, and Herod.
Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest
Reading 1 ECCL 1:2-11
Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!
What profit has man from all the labor
which he toils at under the sun?
One generation passes and another comes,
but the world forever stays.
The sun rises and the sun goes down;
then it presses on to the place where it rises.
Blowing now toward the south, then toward the north,
the wind turns again and again, resuming its rounds.
All rivers go to the sea,
yet never does the sea become full.
To the place where they go,
the rivers keep on going.
All speech is labored;
there is nothing one can say.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing
nor is the ear satisfied with hearing.
What has been, that will be;
what has been done, that will be done.
Nothing is new under the sun.
Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!”
has already existed in the ages that preceded us.
There is no remembrance of the men of old;
nor of those to come will there be any remembrance
among those who come after them.
Gospel 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.