Renewing Our Commitment

I have wondered if Herod was haunted by his past, much like the murderer in the Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe; the murderer seems to hear his victim (which eventually gives him away), and Herod seems to see John the Baptist in places where he is not (see Matt. 14:2).

In any case, today’s short Gospel tells us something about the attitude of the people around Jesus, and about Herod as well. Some at the time thought Jesus was a resurrected prophet, perhaps John the Baptist or Elijah or some other ancient prophet. These rumors make it to the ears of the tetrarch. He knows John the Baptist is dead because he had ordered his head on a platter in a drunken boast. Perhaps he is afraid his own act is returning to haunt him.

Herod is intrigued by people and events that seem to point to something beyond the ordinary. This is what drew him to John in the first place. He does not want to hear the truth about himself (that’s why he arrested John in the first place) or convert (he had resisted John’s repeated invitations to conversion). This was the case even though he knew John was good, and he liked to listen to him (see Mark 6:20). Now his curiosity is stirred toward Jesus, but not for the right reasons. The Gospel ends on a resonating word: “And he kept trying to see him.”

Do we keep trying to see Jesus? Why? What motivates us? We can also sometimes miss the point, as Herod did. We can be intrigued by goodness, we can even be eager to hear speakers or attend events that are intended to stoke the fire of love in us and draw us into a deeper relationship with God. But then we sometimes fall short of the invitation before us; rather than embrace the grace of the moment and resolve to work continually on conversion, we let the moment pass. The fire becomes once more a heap of ash-covered embers and we don’t know how to stir those embers into flame again.

Let’s renew our commitment to try to see Jesus in our everyday lives, and to seek to know what he wants for us. Events and speakers are good and necessary, but in order for these experiences to be fruitful, we need to focus on what God is calling us to do right where we are. What are the duties before me today? How can I do them with greater love and attention? How can I be present to the people for whom I am responsible? How can I walk with Jesus in every moment?

Kathryn is married to Robert, mother of seven, grandmother to two, and a lay Carmelite. She has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and also as a writer and voice talent for Holy Family Radio. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and presenter, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Faith Formation, individual parishes, and Catholic ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Learn more at or on Facebook @summapax.