Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

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Joy and Judgment

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” Matthew 13:47–50

This parable is the third of three parables Jesus tells in a row. The first compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a “treasure buried in a field.” When a person finds it, they sell everything they have so as to buy that field. The second parable likens the Kingdom of Heaven to a merchant who is in search of fine pearls. “When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” In both of these parables, the discovery of the Kingdom of Heaven is a great joy. The person discovering the treasure or the pearl is so elated that he is willing to trade all that he has so as to obtain it.

The third of these three parables, however, is much different. In this case, the Kingdom of Heaven is likened to a net that gathers all people at the end of the age and separates them, the good from the bad. The parable then concludes with a frightening image. The wicked will be thrown “into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

In the end, for those who enter the glories of Heaven, there will be unending joy. And this fact must be understood so as to draw us into those riches of grace. Anticipation of such a gift should motivate us to diligently seek out the many graces our Lord wishes to bestow upon us. But sometimes we need a bit more of a nudge. We can easily become complacent in our life of faith and our search for God’s will. For that reason, Jesus includes the third parable, outlining the consequences some will endure at the end of time. Though it might not be a happy thought, it is a holy thought because it reveals God’s definitive justice and judgment at the end of time.

Do you believe in the Justice of God? Do you believe that He will exact definitive judgment upon those who reject His holy will in this life? Do you believe that Hell is real and is a possibility for us all? If this thought is difficult to accept, then it might be worth further prayerfully pondering this third parable. Justice and judgment are real. If we are not fully motivated in life to diligently seek out the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven, then we should at least honestly face the reality of the consequences that await.

Reflect, today, upon the glory, beauty and splendor of God. Try to put your eyes of faith upon the Treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven. Allow this prayerful meditation to inspire you to make obtaining the Kingdom of Heaven your sole mission in life. But if you struggle with this joyous discovery, then do not hesitate to reflect upon the potential consequences. The Lord speaks of these consequences of God’s justice and judgment for our good so as to keep them from becoming our reality.

My just Judge, You see all things and know all things. You know my heart through and through. Please cleanse me of every sin and all complacency in life. Fill me with a holy zeal for Your Kingdom. May the joy of the discovery of You fully motivate me to remain diligent in my journey to Heaven. Jesus, I trust in You.

Journeying in Faith and Prayer

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” John 6:11–12

The people who were present for this miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fish had to journey to be there. First, they followed Jesus to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, and then they followed Him up a mountain in a remote area. This is significant because it tells us that a miracle of such magnitude could only take place for those who had faith and acted on that faith. Jesus could have easily performed this miracle in the Temple in Jerusalem or in a synagogue where people doubted Him. If He did that, then many of His skeptics and critics would have seen His almighty power with their own eyes. Jesus could have also done this miracle in Nazareth, His hometown, in the presence of His extended family and friends. Perhaps if He had done this, then they would have come to believe in Him. But Jesus didn’t do this incredible miracle in places where faith was lacking. Instead, He went to a remote area where only those who truly wanted to be with Him were present.

Note that the actions by which Jesus performed this miracle are similar to the way He instituted the Holy Eucharist during the Last Supper. We read above that Jesus “took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them…” Though this miracle is recorded in all four Gospels, in John’s Gospel it is a prelude to Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse in which Jesus teaches, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” Therefore, this miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish should be seen as a teaching about the Eucharist. It is in the Eucharist that Jesus feeds us to superabundance. The Eucharist is the gift of His very life and the food that will bring us to eternal life.

Unfortunately, it seems that very few people ever discover the gift of the Eucharist. Many people look at their participation in Mass as a duty that they must fulfill rather than as an invitation to share in the superabundant life. The only way we will discover the superabundant life given to us through the Eucharist is by working to imitate the faith of the people whom Jesus fed on that mountain. Again, the people who received this miracle had to journey either around or across the sea and climb a mountain. So also with us, the only way to come to a fruitful participation in the Eucharist is to make a concerted effort. The journey we make is one of faith, and the mountain we climb is one of prayer. Unless we believe deeply in our Lord, believe in the superabundant and transforming power of the Eucharist, seek it out faithfully every week and do so prayerfully, we will never be fed in this superabundant way.

Reflect, today, upon the symbolism of Jesus traveling to this remote area so as to perform this most incredible miracle. See this journey that you are invited to take as a journey toward the discovery of the superabundant grace bestowed upon you through the Most Holy Eucharist. The only way that you will receive this grace is by committing yourself to the journey of faith and prayer. Don’t miss out. Don’t ignore the incredible value of this Gift. Seek out our Lord and discover His Gift of superabundant grace within your fruitful participation in the Holy Mass.

My Eucharistic Lord, You call me to journey up the mountain of faith in the most Holy Eucharist through prayer and determination. May I more deeply discover the great value of the Holy Mass and seek to be fed by You in this superabundant way. Jesus, I trust in You.

Learning to Pray

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1

In today’s Gospel we are given three teachings on prayer. First, Jesus teaches His disciples what has come to be called “The Lord’s Prayer.” Second, He teaches about the importance of persistence in prayer. Third, He teaches about the fruit that comes from correct and persistent prayer.

The Church Father Tertullian said that The Lord’s Prayer “is truly the summary of the whole Gospel.” Saint Augustine said, “Run through all the words of the holy prayers [in Scripture], and I do not think that you will find anything in them that is not contained and included in the Lord’s Prayer.” Saint Thomas Aquinas said, “The Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect of prayers…. In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired” (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2761–2763).

It’s amazing to consider what these great teachers of the faith have said about this short prayer. Perhaps because of our familiarity with this prayer we can easily gloss over the depth of its meaning. We can fail to use it as a foundation and model for all of our prayer. One way to correct this tendency is to use The Lord’s Prayer for an extended period of time by prayerfully pondering every word slowly and meditatively. Doing so will help open us up to these perfect “instructions” on how we should pray.

Immediately after Jesus taught this short prayer, He taught a lesson about persistence in prayer. He taught that we must not simply say a few prayers and leave it at that, giving up if they do not appear to be answered. Instead, we must continuously beg God for His grace until it is bestowed in its fullness.

What will we receive from persistent prayer? This is an important point. We ought not go to God with our own wants and desires. We ought not beg Him for things that do not fall within His perfect will. Instead, when our prayer is modeled on the Lord’s Prayer, and when it is persistent and grounded in faith, then our prayer will be for what the Father bestows upon us, that is His will alone. We must pray that His Kingdom will come. We must trust that He will provide for our needs. We must seek His forgiveness for our sins, and we must pray that He will protect us from the evil one.

Reflect, today, upon that perfect prayer, The Lord’s Prayer. Spend time studying it, thinking about each petition, the order in which Jesus laid it out, its simplicity and its clarity. Acknowledge that because we pray The Lord’s Prayer so often, we can sometimes miss its true meaning and beauty. Our Lord gave us this prayer for a reason. Make sure that you do all you can to discover its meaning and practice its teaching.

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. Jesus, I trust in You.

Transformed by Grace

Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

He spoke to them another parable. “The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.” Matthew 13:33

Yeast is powerful. Though it often accounts for only about 1% of a loaf of bread, it causes that loaf to more than double in size. Of course, it also has the amazing effect of turning the dough soft and flexible as it rises. Without yeast, the dough would remain stiff and much smaller in size. The dough would not become the bread it was meant to be.

The Church Fathers offer many interpretations of this short, one-sentence parable. Some say that the three measures of flour represent the spirit, soul and body into which the Gospel is inserted. Others say the three measures of flour represent either three different kinds of persons or three levels of fruitfulness in our lives. The yeast is understood by some as the message of the Gospel in the Scriptures and by others as charity that must permeate our lives and the world as a whole. Of course, the parables of Jesus, as well as every teaching contained within the Scriptures, offer us many levels of understanding and meaning that are all correct and consistent with each other. One of the most important questions to ponder is this: What does God want to say to you through this parable?

If you consider yourself to be the three measures of flour, and the yeast to be God, His holy Word and His gentle but clear Voice speaking to you, in what concrete ways do you see your life rising as a direct result? How do you see yourself becoming that which you are intended to be as a result of God entering your life? And do you see the effect as one that is truly transforming and even exponential?

Sometimes the Word of God has little to no effect on our lives. That, of course, is not the fault of the Word of God; rather, it’s because we do not allow God to do His transforming work. For yeast to work, the dough has to sit still for a while. So in our lives, for God to do His work, we must allow Him to gently and powerfully work. This process requires that we internalize all that God speaks to us. Then His actions must prayerfully be permitted to work within us, and we must allow the change to be slow and certain in accord with His divine plan.

Sometimes we can also become impatient with the workings of God. Again, the yeast takes time to work. If we are impatient with God’s grace, then it may be like taking the dough and kneading it over and over before it even has a chance to work. But if we are prayerfully patient, allowing God to do His work in our lives according to His will and in His time, then little by little we will experience the transformation that He initiates.

Reflect, today, upon this short but powerful parable. See yourself as that dough and see God and His action in your life as the yeast. As you sit with that image in a prayerful way, let God reveal how He wants to work within you and how He wants to transform you. Pray for patience. Trust that if you receive His transforming Word into your soul, then He will do what He wants to do. And trust that if this happens, you will indeed become the person God wants you to become.

My transforming Lord, You desire to enter deeply into my life and to permeate all that I am. You desire to change me, little by little, making me into the person You want me to become. Please help me to be attentive to all that You desire to do in me and to patiently await the transformation that You have already begun. Jesus, I trust in You.

Our Final Destiny

Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

“Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”  Matthew 13:43

This passage concludes Jesus’ explanation of the Parable of the Weeds in the Field. Recall that in this parable there were good seeds sown in a field. The Sower is the Son of Man, Jesus, and the seed He sows are the children of the Kingdom, which includes all those who are in a state of grace. The field is the whole world. Thus, Jesus is saying that He has sent His followers, each one of us, into the world to build His Kingdom. But the evil one also sows his “children,” which refers to all of those who live evil lives that are contrary to the will of God. The passage above refers to the reward that the children of the Kingdom receive, whereas the passage just prior to this points out that at the end of the age, the children of the evil one will be condemned and sent “into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

The end result of being the children of the Kingdom is quite hopeful. “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.” This promise from our Lord should be pondered, believed and become the driving force of our hope in life.

Hope is an essential virtue that we often do not speak of enough. The gift of hope is not simply wishful thinking, such as when one hopes they win the lotto. The theological virtue of hope is a gift from God that is based on truth. The truth that it is based on is the promise of eternal life in Heaven if we accept all that God speaks to us and if we fulfill His glorious will in our lives.

By analogy, say that you have a large mortgage on your home. And say that the bank was doing a promotion in which they were going to pay off the mortgage for one lucky family. And that family was yours. They contacted you and let you know that all you need to do is fill out an application for this grant and that it would then be given to you. What would you do? Of course you would go and fill out the application. The bank is trustworthy, and you are confident that if you do what they ask, a small task of filling out the application, then they will follow through with the promise they made of paying off your mortgage. In a sense, there is hope established within you once you learn of this offer; and that hope, which is based on a true promise, is what drives you to do the small task of filling out the application.

So it is with God. The “mortgage” that He promises to pay is the debt of all our sin. And the requirement to receive this promise is fidelity to all He commands of us for our good. The problem is that we often do not fully understand the reward we are promised. That is: to “shine like the sun” in the Kingdom of our Father in Heaven. Having your mortgage paid off by the bank is something concrete and clear and very desirable. But the reward of shining like the sun in the Kingdom is of infinitely greater value. Do you believe that?

The best way to strengthen the virtue of theological hope in our lives is to become more and more certain of the truthful promise of our Lord. We need to understand Heaven and the infinite value we receive by obtaining it. If we truly understood what Jesus was promising us, we would become so intensely driven to do all that He commands us to do that this would become the single focus of our life. The hope would become a strength so strong that we would become consumed with doing anything and everything necessary to obtain such a reward.

Reflect, today, upon the depth of hope you have in your life. How driven are you by the promises made by our Lord? How clearly do you understand those promises? If you struggle with hope, then spend more time on the end reward that is promised to you by Jesus. Believe what He says and make that end goal the central focus of your life.

My glorious King, You invite all people to share in the glories of Heaven. You promise us that if we are faithful, we will shine like the sun for all eternity. Help me to understand this glorious gift so that it becomes the single object of my hope and the drive of all that I do in life. Jesus, I trust in You.

Discovering the Riches of Heaven

Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Jesus said to his disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44

Today’s Gospel presents us with two very short and similar parables. In the first, quoted above, the Kingdom of Heaven is likened to a “treasure.” In the second parable, the Kingdom of Heaven is likened to a “pearl of great price.” Though these parables are very similar to each other, there are also subtle differences worth pondering. It appears that the treasure mentioned in the first parable is discovered almost by accident. The person simply “finds” it. This is in contrast to the second parable, in that the merchant who finds the pearl of great price did so after “searching” for it. 

We often encounter the Treasure of the Gospel without even looking for it. We do so any time God intervenes in our lives without us seeking His intervention. For example, if someone were to offer an act of charity to you without you seeking it out, this is God giving you a treasure of His Kingdom. Or if someone shares with you their faith, or an inspiration they received, this is indeed a treasure given to you by God. The problem is that many times when we are given these treasures of the Gospel, we do not always see them as treasures. Imagine, for example, if the person in this parable were to stumble upon the treasure in the field and fail to open it out of indifference. They see it from a distance, have a bit of curiosity about what is in the box, but they are not energetic enough to actually open the box and look inside. In that case, the person would have no reason to go and sell all that they have so as to buy the field in which the treasure is found.

One clear message that this first parable reveals is that we must be attentive to the countless treasures of God’s graces given to us each and every day. God is so prolific in offering us grace, that we truly do stumble upon His grace all the time. Thus, having eyes to perceive His actions and ears to Hear His Voice is essential.

A second message clearly given in both of these parables is that once we discover the graces God gives us every day, we must foster within ourselves a desire for those graces that is so strong that we are willing to do anything necessary to obtain them. The discovery is made through the gift of faith, but the discovery by faith must then be followed with a zeal that drives our will to conform to that discovery.

Reflect, today, upon two things. First, have you discovered the treasures God has given to you? If you hesitate in answering this, then it’s most likely the case that there is much you have yet to discover. Secondly, as you do discover the riches that come with the gift of faith, then have you allowed that which God has spoken to you to consume you to such a point that you are willing to sell all you have, meaning, do whatever it takes to further accept all God wants to bestow? Resolutely determine to go forth on this holy search and you will find that the riches of grace that you obtain are of infinite value.

My Lord of all riches, You bestow upon me and upon all Your children countless graces every day. The treasures of Your mercy are of infinite value. Please open my eyes so that I can see and my ears so that I can hear so as to discover all that You wish to bestow. May You and the riches of Your Kingdom become the one and only, all-consuming focus of my life. Jesus, I trust in You.

Understanding the Voice of God

Thursday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

“Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” Matthew 13:51–52

At times, Jesus’ words are difficult to understand. How well do you understand what He teaches you? He often teaches in figures of speech, as well as with parables. The passage quoted above concludes a section in which He speaks three subsequent parables. The third of these parables, the parable about the fishnet, is contained in the beginning of today’s Gospel passage. But just prior to that parable are the parables about the pearl of great price and the treasure buried in a field. Upon the conclusion of these three parables, Jesus asked His disciples, “Do you understand all these things?” After they affirmed that they did understand, Jesus gave an overview of the mission to which they had been entrusted. These soon-to-be bishops would become the new scribes who were instructed in the Kingdom of Heaven. Their mission would be to bring forth both the “new and the old.”

Many Church Fathers identify the “new and the old” as a reference to the Old Testament and the New Testament. Thus, the Twelve are being entrusted with the mission of being the scribes of the full revelation contained in what will become the full Bible as we have it today. Other commentators suggest that the “old” refers to the old life of sin and the “new” refers to the new life of grace. It will be the mission of the Twelve to instruct people in the full Gospel message, so as to draw them from their old life of sin to the new life of grace.

Though Jesus’ words can be difficult to understand from the perspective of a biblical scholar, the first of His words quoted above are very straightforward. “Do you understand all these things?” As we ponder that question in particular, try to hear our Lord asking that question of you. Though many scholars and saints of old have offered much clarity on what Jesus’ teachings actually mean, the question that Jesus posed to the Twelve must be answered in a more personal way for each of us. As you hear Jesus ask you if you understand these things, the answer you give is not primarily based upon whether or not you have sufficiently studied the text of His teaching and can rationally explain it as a scholar. Instead, the answer He is seeking is whether or not you can respond from faith. He wants you to say, “Yes, I hear You speaking to me, Lord. Yes, my heart is convicted by the words You have spoken. Yes, I understand what I must do. Yes, Lord, I believe.” The Word of God is alive and can only be “understood” properly when we allow our Living Lord to speak to us, personally, as we listen to His holy Word.

Reflect, today, upon this question that Jesus posed to the Twelve. As you do, hear Him asking you this question. How fully do you understand what God is saying to you, right now at this moment in your life? As you read the Scriptures, do you sense God revealing Himself to you? Do you understand what He wants of you? If hearing the voice of God is a challenge at times, then spend more time prayerfully pondering His holy Word so that His Living Voice will more clearly resonate within your soul.

My revealing Lord, You speak to me day and night, continuously revealing Your love and mercy to me. May I learn to become more attentive to Your voice speaking within the depths of my soul. As I hear You speak, please give me the gift of understanding to know Your will and to embrace it with all my heart. Jesus, I trust in You.

Seeing the Greatness of Christ

Friday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?” Matthew 13:54

Today’s Gospel goes on to say that the people in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth took offense at Him, which led Jesus to say, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” It is somewhat surprising that they took offense at Jesus after witnessing His wisdom and mighty deeds. Jesus was very familiar to the townspeople, and it seems that that familiarity led them to doubt that Jesus was someone special.

It should be noted that, in many ways, the people who knew Jesus for many years should have been the first people to see His greatness. And most likely there were some from His hometown who did. They would have known Jesus’ mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and she would have given daily witness to incredible virtues. They would have known Joseph as a truly righteous and just man. And Jesus would have exuded every human virtue to perfection as He grew. And again, that should have been easily noticeable. But many failed to see the holiness of Jesus and the Holy Family.

This experience of our Lord should remind us that it is easy to miss the presence of God all around us. If those who were closest to Jesus did not recognize Him as a man of exceptional virtue and holiness, then how much more might we fail to see the presence of God in the lives of those we encounter every day? For some reason, perhaps because of our struggles with pride and anger, it is easier to look at the faults of another than at their virtues. It’s easy to be critical of them and to dwell upon their perceived weaknesses and sins. But this Gospel story should encourage us to do all we can to look beyond the surface and to see God present in every life we encounter.

On the most fundamental level, God dwells within each and every person He has created. Even those who remain in a state of persistent mortal sin are still made in the image of God and reflect God by their very nature. And we must see this. And those who are in a state of grace carry the presence of God, not only within themselves by nature but also through God’s action in their lives. Every virtue that every person has is there because God is at work in them. And we must work to see this divine activity in their lives.

Begin by thinking about the people with whom you are closest. When you think about them, what comes to mind? Over the years, we can build habits of dwelling upon others’ faults. And those habits are hard to break. But they can only be broken by intentionally seeking out the presence of God in their lives. As noted, if Jesus’ own townspeople had a difficult time doing this with Him Who was perfect, then this should tell us that it will be even harder for us to do with those who lack perfection. But it must be done and is a very holy endeavor.

Reflect, today, upon the important mission you have been given to see the presence of God in the lives of those all around you. What if Jesus had grown up in your town? As your neighbor? And though the Incarnate Son of God does not live next door as He did in Nazareth, He does live in each and every person you encounter every day. Honestly reflect upon how well you see Him and commit yourself to the holy mission of seeing Him more clearly so that you can rejoice in His greatness which is truly manifest all around you.

My Lord of true greatness, You are truly present all around me. You are alive and living in the lives of those whom I encounter every day. Please give me the eyes of faith to see You and a heart that loves You. Help me to overlook the faults and weaknesses of others. Jesus, I trust in You.

Overcoming Regret

Saturday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” Matthew 14:1–2

Herod the tetrarch was one of three brothers and a sister who became 1st-century rulers to succeed their father, Herod the Great, when he died in 4 B.C. Herod governed much of the territory west of the Sea of Galilee, which was the territory in which Jesus spent most of His time during His public ministry. He also ruled a territory just east of the Dead Sea, which is where he had imprisoned and ultimately killed John the Baptist. Herod was known for being a very busy builder and is prominently known for his role in the deaths of Saint John the Baptist and Jesus.

Recall that Herod had taken his brother’s wife, Herodias, as his own, and John the Baptist publicly opposed this. For that reason, Herod had John arrested and ultimately beheaded at the request of Herodias, who took the Baptist’s criticism very personally. Herod, on the other hand, had a strange sort of admiration for the Baptist.

The Gospel passage quoted above reveals a somewhat unusual statement by Herod. After he had killed Saint John the Baptist, he heard about the reputation of Jesus Who was traveling throughout Herod’s territory preaching and performing many mighty deeds. Word spread fast about Jesus and quickly reached even the ears of Herod. So why did Herod strangely think that Jesus must have been John the Baptist raised from the dead? Though we do not know for certain, we certainly can speculate.

In the version of this story found in the Gospel of Mark, we read, “Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him” (Mark 6:20). Herod may have been a man who had a spark of faith but was ultimately ruled by his passions and desire for power. Perhaps that is why he initially kept John the Baptist alive in his prison. It also appears that Herod had some form of either regret or fear over his beheading of John. And it is most likely for this reason that Herod immediately thought of John when he initially heard of Jesus and the “mighty powers” that were at work within Him.

Regret, fear and guilt are common effects of a conscience that is in conflict. Herod the tetrarch is a good example of what happens when we do not resolve that conflict within ourselves. The only way to resolve the interior confusion of a conflicted conscience is to humbly submit to the truth. Imagine if Herod would have repented. Imagine if he would have sought out Jesus, confessed his sins, and begged for forgiveness. What a glorious story that would have been. Instead, we have the witness of a man who has gone astray and remained obstinate in his sin.

Reflect, today, upon this unholy witness of Herod. God can use all things for His glory, and He can even use the example of Herod to reveal to ourselves any similar tendency. Do you struggle with regret, fear and guilt? Does this cause conflict within you? The good news is that this conflict is easily resolved by a humble heart that seeks the truth. Seek the truth by admitting any long-lasting sin you need to resolve and permit the mercy of God to enter in so as to set you free.

My merciful Jesus, You desire that all people experience freedom from the sins of the past. You desire to penetrate our hearts and to bring resolution and peace. Please help me to open my mind and heart to You in the areas that still cause pain and regret, and help me to be set free by Your infinite mercy. Jesus, I trust in You.

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