Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him.
|John: "Your sin will land you in Hell. Repent!"|
Herod: "Boo Hoo, we were friends, but my loins need freedom. Off with your head!"
Like the growing majority of people in our country, Herod just couldn't be expected to control his desires - the heart wants what the heart wants!
So he killed his friend John the Baptist to satiate a lover.
AND YET, in today's Gospel, Herod, even after slaying John, is still desiring to see Jesus. There is a fascination with Christ that somehow calls to Herod.
It seems this gives us two launching points for Pope Francis visit - and both are equally true
1) the pessimistic but true launching point is that much of the excitement around Pope Francis is ephemeral, fleeting, and surface level.
Most of the papal visit selfies and so forth will be buried in people's Instagram and Twitter feeds in a matter of hours, the excitement wearing off before the fences and barricades can even be cleaned up.
"BUT FATHER...THAT'S SO PESSIMISTIC!"
We can base this off of the fact that this was the same way that most people treated JESUS CHRIST! The crowds were often whipped into a frenzy about Jesus. They wanted to see him. They'd heard about him. He could potentially heal people. The crowds pushed in on him. etc. And what did we see, over and over again - they wanted a sickness cured, they wanted bread, and Jesus kept reminding them to follow him for better reasons.
This isn't to rain on the Pope Francis excitement, but it is important to be realistic...not for the sake of being realistic but for the sake of recognizing that we have a duty to help people go beyond the surface, to take this positive energy and keep the flame burning in the hearts of people.
2) The optimistic and simultaneously true launching point: There is a continuing fascination with the Church, the Pope, Jesus, etc.
No one gets this excited when the Archbishop of Canterbury visits. And lest we forget, the country was in a frenzy when Pope Benedict visited 7 years ago as well.
Something about the Church's message resonates with people and when they see it and hear the message they KNOW it is true.
We need to acknowledge this so that we can also recognize the role we have in helping people UNDERSTAND WHY THE CHURCH FASCINATES THEM!