My dear sisters and brothers, today in Luke's Gospel we hear about Herod the Tetrarch. After the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC, the ancient Kingdom was divided into four parts with each part under the rule of a member of the Herodian family. A “Tetrarch” was a “ruler of a quarter” of the kingdom of Israel. Herod Antipas was the ruler of the region of Galilee and Perea during the time of Jesus and is the subject of the story we have just heard in the Gospel. Herod the Tetrarch is the one who beheaded John the Baptist.
It was in his region of Galilee that he heard fascinating stories about a new miracle-worker from Nazareth who went about preaching and exciting the public. Herod was “perplexed” and did not know what to make of the new man from Nazareth around whom crowds had started gathering. “Who is this about whom I hear such things,” he said “And he kept trying to see him.”
Herod was curious about Jesus but was not necessarily interested in following. God planted the seed of curiosity in our hearts with hopes that our curiosity can lead us to Him, leading us to know Him, love Him, and serve Him. God has placed many spiritual ‘signposts’ of His presence in our world, in our human nature — with hopes that our curiosity will lead us to reflect on these various ‘signposts’ or vestiges of His presence that He has planted everywhere and eventually lead us to Him.
Curiosity can lead us to new discoveries that can improve our lives and draw us closer to God. A holy curiosity can lead us to discover new truths about God and lead us to change long-held false perspectives, misconceptions, or wrong attitudes that we have lived with for years. If we allow the Spirit of God to lead us through a holy curiosity, we can grow in our spiritual lives and we can be led to the place where God wants us to be.
The challenge is that sometimes we mistake curiosity with mere fascination. Herod the Tetrarch was fascinated by the stories he heard about Jesus. Curiosity is associated with a search for truth, while fascination many times is a self-seeking ego trip.
We have been preparing for a pilgrimage to Israel. Part of preparing the pilgrims is to help them understand that a pilgrimage is not merely a tourist journey where you go to some exotic place to look at people, their cultures, their history, and artifacts for personal pleasure. A pilgrimage is a search for God through the inspiration of a particular geography or location where God has revealed Himself in a special way.
May the Lord continuously renew a holy curiosity within our hearts. May the Spirit of the Lord use our curiosity to lead us to new truths, new perspectives, new attitudes, new goals, and pursuits in life that honor and draw us closer to God.
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About Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C.
Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C. is the President of Holy Cross Family Ministries. Father Fred, a native of Uganda, has multiple degrees including theology, philosophy, and communications. His native language is Lusoga and he speaks English, Luganda, Kiswahili, and Rutooro. He has been a teacher, researcher, author and family minister. Father Fred is committed to helping build God’s masterpiece one family at a time.