A Response to King Herod

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Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.

O foolish King Herod, you’ve forgotten your own dignity!

As king, you’ve noticed a great respect offered by your people – they enter your palace and exclaim: “Hail, King Herod!” Yes, they love you, or at least they love your seat of honor and your wealth. And why wouldn’t they? For you throw exquisite banquets in the finest halls with the most decadent foods and wines, and you make sure to invite your closest friends. You’ve even realized how mighty is the power of your influence, for the wife of your lowly brother has left him for you, leaving his lowliness for your greatness.

Yes, it must feel so good to surround yourself with so many people who are attracted to your power and wealth. In fact, it seems this power and wealth have become your very identity: it seems you are power and wealth, and everyone accepts that. Yet there is one who challenges that notion and makes it known that he believes otherwise. He knows your true identity as a son of God and he knows this identity calls you to greater purpose than merely exercising your power in such a way that allows you to live a life of pleasure with your supposed friends.

But you’ve forgotten all of that – at least on the surface – and want to hear nothing further on the matter, so you do what anyone else would do if their identity was challenged: you take care of the problem. Except you have convinced yourself of your own goodness by holding him in prison rather than killing him. Of course, this noble act by such a noble king has set up your current predicament.

She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers,
his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee.
Herodias’ own daughter came in
and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
“Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request,
“I want you to give me at once
on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.

Your life of pleasure has led you to make a promise to this girl worth up to as much as half your kingdom. She, also not knowing her own dignity, is convinced by her power-seeking mother to ask for the head of this one man, who only wants you to know your own dignity. You’re stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place because you’ve made such a promise in the midst of all of your apparent friends, and going back on that promise would mean a huge hit for your reputation. Yet you don’t want to actually kill the man. What are you to do?!

O foolish King Herod, if only you knew your own dignity! Then you would see that the life of this man is worth more than half of your kingdom – the girl has asked for more than you promised! You don’t have to grant her request! If only you had focused yourself on the Kingdom of Heaven rather than on your earthly kingdom! Then you would see how great is the man you have been holding in prison simply for proclaiming the truth to you and calling you on to a life of righteousness. As it is, you have sought only pleasure and so desire only to keep your reputation among your supposed friends. The Baptist, too, will stick to his role as the forerunner for the true King and pave His way even to the point of an innocent death.

So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders
to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

St. John the Baptist, pray for us from Heaven! Pray that we might not seek to live lives of pleasure, but instead lives grounded in the truth of the Gospels. Pray that we might not seek to build up our own little kingdoms, but instead strive to build up the Kingdom of Heaven.

Prayer Ministry : Inner Healing

Listen to this prayer for inner healing over and over whenever you need.  Add your voice and heart to it.  Receive grace from on High.

 

Prayer for Inner Healing

Dear Lord Jesus, please come and heal my wounded and troubled heart. I beg you to heal the torments that are causing anxiety in my life. I beg you, in a particular way, to heal the underlying source of my sinfulness. I beg you to come into my life and heal the psychological harms that struck me in my childhood and from the injuries they have caused throughout my life.

Lord Jesus, you know my burdens. I lay them on your Good Shepherd’s Heart. I beseech you—by the merits of the great open wound in your heart—to heal the small wounds that are in mine. Heal my memories, so that nothing that has happened to me will cause me to remain in pain and anguish, filled with anxiety.

Heal, O Lord, all those wounds that have been the cause of evil that is rooted in my life. I want to forgive all those who have offended me. Look to those inner sores that make me unable to forgive. You who came to forgive the afflicted of heart, please, heal my wounded and troubled heart.

Heal, O Lord Jesus, all those intimate wounds that are the root cause of my physical illness. I offer you my heart. Accept it, Lord, purify it and give me the sentiments of your Divine Heart.

Heal me, O Lord, from the pain caused by the death of my loved ones. Grant me to regain peace and joy in the knowledge that you are the Resurrection and the Life. Make me an authentic witness to your resurrection, your victory over sin and death, and your loving presence among all men. Amen.

Suffer With Jesus [SERMON]

Listen to Deacon Bryan’s homily from this morning. First, read this Gospel passage (Matthew 15:21-28):

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

Jesus reveals his love for this woman through a strong challenge so he can boast about her great faith when she perseveres in prayer. Let’s imitate her great humility before the Lord!

Prisoner 16670

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In 1941 a Polish priest was arrested at his friary. The Nazis noticed his German name and offered to let him go. Wishing to be with his native people, the priest insisted on going with all the others who were arrested. After a brief stop in one of the smaller concentration camps, he was transferred to Auschwitz, where he was given the number 16670.

Though he was rather sickly and frail, the guards gave him some of the hardest work. Still, he persevered, always trusting in the love of Jesus and Mary. One day, some men were discovered to have escaped from camp. Of course, this infuriated the camp commander, so he decided to pick ten random prisoners to starve in a bunker as a way to deter any further escape attempts. Prisoner 16670 was not chosen. The final prisoner chosen, a man by the name of Franciszek Gajowniczek, begged for mercy from the guards because of his wife and children. Prisoner 16670 stepped forward, announced he was a Catholic priest, and volunteered to take the man’s spot. St. Maximilian Kolbe, who could have escaped imprisonment due to his German name, sacrificed his life so the other prisoner could have a chance to survive and return to his family! What love this priest of Jesus Christ had for God’s children!

In the bunker, there could be heard hymns sung and prayers recited to our Lord and His Mother. There were not cries of pain and anguish, but instead songs of joy and peace. St. Maximilian encouraged his fellow victims that soon they would be in Heaven with Jesus and His Mother Mary. Two weeks passed and still St. Maximilian remained alive, so the guards finally gave him a lethal injection.

As for Franciszek, he survived Auschwitz and reunited with his wife after the war (though his sons were killed). He was present at the canonization of St. Maximilian and spread the story of St. Maximilian’s heroic love as long as he lived.

Let’s strive to imitate the heroic virtue of St. Maximilian Kolbe! We will put others’ needs before our own. We will go where we can best serve the Lord and bring about His glory, even if it means a little extra suffering for us. We will encourage one another in times of extreme suffering so that we might not cry in pain and anguish, but instead sing out to the Lord in joy and peace. Perhaps we may even lay down our own lives so that others may live.

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“For Jesus Christ, I am prepared to suffer still more.”

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