Many call him the King of the Jews, but I like to refer to him as the King of religious indifference. King Herod’s ancestors converted to Judaism, and although he considered himself King of the Jews, he built temples for other religions too. He wasn’t really a devoted practitioner of his faith at all. I suppose you could say he was Jewish in name only. It’s not that he didn’t believe in God. It was more or less his status and the immersion in the distractions of political life that hindered his spiritual upbringing. Presumably we could argue he was a man of great indifference to religion. Nevertheless he was very cruel, and his slaughter of the innocents is testimony to that.
John the Baptist rebuked Herod quite often for his loose way of living and breaking the law. King Herod had married his brothers wife Herodias while his brother was still among the living. John the Baptist doesn’t let him away with it. In order to satisfy Herodias, King Herod had John thrown into prison. Herodias really wanted to kill John but Herod didn’t want to kill him. Why? Because he was afraid of him and regarded him as a good and Holy man. Maybe a bit on the crazy side, but he just didn’t have it in him to kill him.
But there is a verse that stands out in the 6th Chapter of the Gospel of Mark that I think represents all of us not just Herod (emphasis mine).
When he had heard him speak he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to himMark:6:20
Many of us stand from afar and listen to a person talk about Jesus, love and happiness. And because the Gospel really brings our sinfulness and religious indifference into the light, we become “greatly perplexed” as Herod did. Yet, we like to listen to them. We would listen for hours and hours if we could, but that is to the extent our interest goes. For most of the world the Gospel is a nice idea but unreachable.
Many of us walk around Church and saying our prayers. We listen to the homilies of priests with great interest that challenge us to change our existing way of behaving. Some become like Herodias. They become angry with the priest, and want to kill the messenger. Other people replicate Herod in their attitudes preferring to give respect while listening from a distance. There’s an abundance of rotten indifference towards the religion of their birth and change within them.
King Herod was a friend of the world, building temples for non Jews to benefit himself. We are much the same. We go out into the secular world and we place one foot there and the other in Church. Like Herod we want the best of both worlds don’t we? But it’s not possible to love the world and the Lord at the same time. You cannot mix fresh water with salt water.
We must take great care not to become listeners of the Gospel, but practitioners. Many of us say, “oh yeah loving ones neighbour is a nice idea alright”, all the while immersed in hating our neighbour. We like to listen to the saints teach on loving our neighbour, but that is to the extent it goes. Such was a perfect picture of King Herod and many after him.
Even now there’s a possibility you follow this blog or are reading this post with great interest, but you’ll walk away none the wiser or any the better. Like King Herod being taken through the streets in his little cabin, you’ll stop and listen, but then pull back the curtain and move onto where ever it is you’re going.
I’m asking you now to break the culture of indifference toward the Catholic faith of your youth. Interrupt this symptom of original sin that has been the plague of many a king for centuries up until the present day. Leave the comfort of your secular castles and don’t allow your position in life to get the consume you. Where are Herod’s servants now? Where is Herodias? Where is his kingdom? Where is all that incredible wealth he enjoyed for the short period of his life? Think about these things PLEASE.
The Spirit is eternal, the life and prestige you enjoy in this world is not. Don’t waste your short time listening to the Gospel, spending time with the world and its fading pleasures. If you take my advice today, I promise you that you’ll never ever regret it, and best of all…IT’S FREE.