Matthew 14: 1-12 Intrigue, Influence and Power
Today’s readings present the juxtaposition of two great prophets in the midst of powerful leaders. The prophet Jeremiah boldly prophesied in the Lord’s name to the “princes and the people” to the point of being sentenced to death. He held firm, and the people said, “This man does not deserve death; it is in the name of the Lord, our God, that he speaks.” St. John the Baptist, boldly proclaimed the Lord and Herod was intrigued; however, he did not fear God. Distressed by fear of the way he would be perceived by guests and out of a twisted sense of duty to uphold an unjust oath, he put to death one man who could have led him to Christ.
We rejoice in the way Jeremiah was spared and the people were converted; yet we despise Herod. In a way, if we honestly reflect, we find that we are often like Herod.
Intrigued by Christ or Committed to knowing Him?
If only Herod would have opened himself to The Truth, how might the world have changed? Have you ever considered what would have happened if Herod underwent a radical conversion and stood up for Christ…the Gospel would read differently. It wasn’t in the Divine plan. Yet, we are called, daily, to draw close to our Lord to allow Him to speak to us, make His will known and fill us with the graces we need to be bold witnesses like Jeremiah and John. Is commitment to quality time with Christ an intriguing idea or a conviction so strong that we will boldly and actively seek him each day? Let us make a greater commitment to substantial daily time with our Lord.
The influence of others vs. the way we influence others
Turning back to Ahikam and Herod we see two distinctly different ways that powerful men use their influence. Ahikam protected the prophet; Herod put one to death. Often we fail to recognize the power of our influence. Our words and our actions can preserve life or destroy it. In our homes, schools, workplaces, parishes and in a world so desperate for Christ, we have great influence. The question is, does my influence preserve and give life?
How do we use our power?
The power we have been given by Our Lord is great indeed. In the 2nd chapter of Colossians verses 9-10, St. Paul writes, “For in him dwells the whole fullness of the deity bodily, and you share in this fullness in him, who is the head of every principality and power.” Do we really believe these words? He who is the head of every principality and power beckons for us to come to Him…daily. He asks, doesn’t demand, our time. He poured himself out on the Cross and presents himself to us in the sacraments, especially in The Eucharist. Let his power be made manifest in you. How do we, as husbands and wives, sons and daughters, executives, workers, stay at home moms and religious use the great power Christ bestows on us to transform the world that is in such great need of our authentic witness.
St. Ignatius of Loyola, whose memorial we celebrate today said, “Give me only Thy Love and Thy Grace and I am rich enough, I ask for nothing more." Let that be our prayer today.
Lord, give me only your Love and Grace and I am rich enough, I ask for nothing more. Help me to be resolved in my commitment to you; not intrigued. Grant me the grace to be ever mindful of my influence on others and embolden me to use the power you have given, through great sacrifice, that I might bring you glory.