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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 9, 7-9

Meanwhile Herod the tetrarch had heard about all that was going on; and he was puzzled, because some people were saying that John had risen from the dead,

others that Elijah had reappeared, still others that one of the ancient prophets had come back to life.

But Herod said, 'John? I beheaded him. So who is this I hear such reports about?' And he was anxious to see him.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Between the mission of the Twelve and their joyous return, the evangelist Luke, following the story of Mark, inserts the passage that describes Herod’s desire to see Jesus. The teaching, the miracles and the missionary activity of the Twelve had provoked the enthusiasm of the crowds. The fame of that Teacher had even reached the court of Herod Antipas. The discord of the rumours about Jesus caused however, restlessness and perplexity in the tetrarch. There were those who said that the young Rabbi was John the Baptist resurrected and those instead who thought he Elijah appeared again. In this psychological tension made of anxiety and fear, Herod sought, in any case, to meet him. Obviously Herod did not share the opinion of those who thought he was the Baptist. Luke summarizes Herod’s doubt this way: “‘John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?’” And therefore “he tried to see him.” It is not the desire of one who wants to listen to and understand that new prophecy which touched the hearts of so many people. Herod does not know it, but the moment in which he will meet the young prophet will come, and it will be the day of the trial when Pilate decided to send him to him as a prisoner. Herod’s desire to meet Jesus is not like Zacchaeus who climbed the tree or like the two Greeks who went to Phillip and Andrea to ask them to meet the Teacher. These wanted to understand the word and action of the young prophet. For this reason they were the ones to move and to go seeking the prophet. Herod, instead, waits for Jesus to come to him. One cannot meet Jesus if one does not “get out” of oneself, if one does not abandon one’s pride, if one remains stuck in the labyrinth of one’s own psyche. The encounter with Jesus is personal, direct and even simpler like so many evangelical episodes which show us to enter into relationship with him. Yes, it is enough to go to him with an open heart and talk to him, or even to raise your voice to implore for help, or even to just touch the hem of his mantle to feel the strength of his presence. But it is indispensable to act with faith, with a heart open to welcoming him. Herod allows himself to be guided only by curiosity without having any intention of changing his life. Without opening your heart and letting yourself be loved and helped, it is not possible to encounter Jesus.

Memory of the Church