FAITH vs. SUPERSTITION


“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus; and he said to his servants, ‘This is John the Baptist, he has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.’ For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison, for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; because John said to him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.’ And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet.” (Mt 14: 1-5)

St. John the Baptist falls on deaf ears, when he tells Herod that “it is not lawful” for Herod to have his brother’s wife. Because Herod had no “law” or concept of “lawfulness.” As far as we can see in this passage from Scripture, at this point in his life, Herod’s “modus operandi” was determined by 1. his attachment to “Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife,” and; 2. his fear of the people. So it’s the chaos of his “own” lust and fear, rather than the divine stability of the “law” beyond and above him, which determines his actions. This chaotic “foundation,” if we could even call it that, of lust and fear, leaves Herod open to rather-wild superstition, like the belief that Jesus was actually John the Baptist, “raised from the dead.”

Herod’s state of mind reminds me of many of us today, who reject the Law of God, while readily believing in stuff like horoscopes, and fly-by-night “charismatic” gurus and teachers of various stripes. All that appears quite ridiculous, really, once we begin to step out of the bondage of our obsessions and addictions, of our own fears and lusts, and enter into the stability of God’s unchangeable, sane, and true love for us, which is outside of “us,” but there nonetheless, and available for us to embrace and receive, as our own. Lord, help me to step outside of my obsessions today, and to accept Your stabilizing, dependable love, as my Law. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,” in my life today, “on earth as it is in heaven.”

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