Worldly versus Spiritual Power

  • September 24, 2020 (readings)
  • Thursday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
  • Renee Pomarico
  • Luke 9:7-9

    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.

    Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe in you, I hope in you, and I love you. Grant me a sacred reverence for supernatural phenomena and a holy fear of the Lord. Lord, I humbly ask for the presence of mind to be in awe before you and approach the tabernacle with great reverence. 

    Encountering Christ:

    1. Worldly Power: Wordly power seduces the powerful into believing that he or she can control all outcomes. Hearing about Jesus agitated Herod, most likely because he had a guilty conscience for having beheaded John. Perhaps he also worried about the possibility of another prophet more popular than John. And he certainly felt that all the commotion was getting out of hand. Herod sought out Jesus to assuage his concerns, but might he also have had a glimmer of authentic curiosity? When we seek Jesus in prayer, are we prompted by anxiety, or do we look for him with hearts motivated by healthy, loving curiosity?

    2. Quiet Power of the Supernatural: Herod’s power was characterized by rashness and self-aggrandizement. His killing of St. John the Baptist could not thwart the higher power of God. God’s power is infinitely beyond that of man’s. The power of the Creator is beauty, truth, and goodness. Our omnipotent God knew when John would die and allowed John to prepare the way for Jesus to begin his active ministry. We can always trust in the power and perfect timing of the Almighty, God, our Father. “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Let us place all our concerns in God’s hands, knowing that he will “work all things to the good for those who love him” (Romans 8:28). 

    3. Pure Intentions: Herod kept trying to see Jesus but to no avail. For a powerful king, one would think he should have seen Jesus whenever he pleased. Perhaps Jesus eluded Herod because he knew Herod’s intentions were selfish. Our Lord wants to be present to us, to fill us with his grace, and to give us every blessing, but being the perfect gentleman, he enters only hearts that welcome him with pure intention. “Therefore, my beloved, avoid idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14).

    Conversing with Christ: Lord, I believe in your almighty power. You have the course of events in your hands. Grant me optimism, docility, and peace in knowing that you guide history. And help me to keep from my heart any sinful attraction to power, honor, or wealth. I want my heart to be a refuge for you, Lord.

    Resolution: Lord, today, by your grace, I will take some time for prayer and check my heart to see if there are idols there. 

    For Further Reflection: Our Lord told St. Faustina, "My daughter, let three virtues adorn you in a particular way: humility, purity of intention, and love" (Diary, 1779).


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