Psalm 90:(1) 3-6, 12-14, 17
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
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.
Good News Reflection: Curiosity should lead to heavenly experiences
In today’s Gospel reading, Herod is described as “very curious” to see Jesus. By now, he’s heard a lot about this miracle worker from Nazareth. He knows that there’s something special about him. Herod was like the people who flock to healing services today looking for miracles but not for Jesus. When he finally met Jesus personally, the encounter did not change him. Why not?
The answer is in the first reading. Everything that is not of heaven is only temporary. In the long view of eternity, anything that has no lasting value is meaningless, worthless, and we hold onto it in vain. When we focus on what is temporal, when we base our values on worldly standards, and when we strive only for a more comfortable, easy life here on earth, we cannot see who Jesus really is, we cannot understand his teachings, and the cross seems like nothing more than an instrument of torture and destruction.
We are all creatures of curiosity. We get excited over miracles, and new discoveries fascinate us, but if they don’t enhance our relationship with Christ, they only benefit our lives for a short time. Spiritual discoveries benefit us forever. Herod did not want to know Jesus where it mattered, in his spirit. He did not want God’s touch to change him. When we don’t let Jesus change us – when we don’t give him the freedom to affect whatever in our lives is temporal – our accomplishments are ultimately worthless and vain.
We enjoy adventure. We go on pilgrimages and tours to places of new discovery. We attend up-lifting conferences and special church events to get mountaintop experiences, but it’s all temporary. While the mountaintop brings us closer to God, the time spent there is wasted unless we’re eternally changed by it – a change that is evidenced in the valley.
Your problems are temporary, too, including those that seem unending. But if in your sufferings there’s no change that transfigures your soul and radiates Jesus outward, any relief you get from the resolution of the problem is temporary and vain.
If you’ve ever visited the Holy Land, you’ve seen the temporal side of Jesus. The places where he once walked and healed and preached the kingdom of God are viewable only as aging churches, faded icons, worn-down Byzantine tiles and crumbling stone. We can stand atop Mount Tabor where Jesus was transfigured, and although we are awed by being there, if there is no change that transfigures our souls and radiates Jesus outward from us, it’s been a meaningless and vain experience.
(My Virtual Pilgrimage to those sites on the Good News Ministries website shows more than pictures; it can be a life-changing experience. See holyland.gnm.org/.)
For our lives to be filled with lasting value, we have to be curious about what Jesus wants to do in our spirits. Our excitement must be based on the changes that will bless the kingdom of God forever.
Praised be to You, Jesus! You are the Savior and King of our lives. In You is the fullness, reason and strength for all our existence. That’s how I recognize You and receive You in my heart. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica