Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10)
The Gospel acclamation for today makes me ponder… What is righteousness? How do we judge what’s right and just? A helpful gage is to ask ourselves, whom do we fear?
Now Herod had arrested John, bound [him], and put him in prison on account of Herodias … Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people… The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison. (Matthew 14:3,5,9-10)
To kill or not to kill; that was the question on Herod’s mind. Fears ruled the ruler. In the quicksand of the world’s opinion, his thoughts sunk deeper with each decision. If we stop the story in the middle, we might mistakenly conclude that his fearing the people was good, for it held back his hand. But it was not. The only fear that can keep us on the straight and narrow is the fear of God.
Dear daughter, I have seen so many people with sensitive hearts, high intelligence, a generous will who became slaves without realizing it and, for fear of hurting anyone, became guilty, first in a passive manner, and then, freely and willingly! (Saint Peter Julian Eymard, in a Letter To Miss Stéphanie Gourd)
Had Herod taken the merciful gift of time to repent, perhaps he would have found the Kingdom hidden behind the veil. But he could only see his earthly kingdom, the things he possessed. And at this, I have to wonder… what about us, my friends? What do we see in front of us? What are we afraid to lose? Where do we stand? What is our quicksand?
Let us pray:
Oh God, protector of those who hope in you, without whom nothing has a firm foundation, nothing is holy, bestow in abundance your mercy upon us and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may use the good things that pass in such a way as to hold fast even now to those that ever endure. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect)