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.
Try this thought experiment: imagine a family member or friend asks you to consider something outside your comfort zone, something good but challenging. Are you open to listening to their idea? Now, what about a stranger or maybe someone you know but don’t trust…are you open to listening to them? And, finally, which category do we put Jesus in?
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Oscar Wilde was a brilliant, witty author. He was jailed on a moral charge at the height of his career. The humiliation devastated him. It also purified him. In de Profundis, one of his later writings, he says: "Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground." The devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady has its origins in Sacred Scripture and Christian piety. This devotion always links the Blessed Mother with her Son's suffering.
Today, we commemorate several events central to our salvation on this Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. The first is the finding of the true cross by Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helen; next, there is the dedication of the original Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 355 and, most significantly, Jesus’ victory over death by His crucifixion and resurrection. Locally, it is the patronal feast of the Archdiocese of Boston, and closer to home, my parent's wedding anniversary.
Peter, a humble fisherman, experienced a profound encounter with the Divine that speaks to our daily experiences and struggles. Just imagine, after a night of tireless effort, Peter and his companions found their nets bursting with an abundance of fish. Their hopes must have soared as they anticipated the ease of selling such a catch. It's natural for us to think, "If Jesus could do it once, why not invite Him as a business partner for a joint venture?" Yet, Luke's Gospel surprises us.
Mark’s Gospel account of what led to John the Baptist’s beheading is like an older version of some of our current entertainment. There’s the powerful man who commits adultery and incest by marrying his brother’s wife, who also happens to be his niece. Then there is John the Baptist, who not only calls Herod to repentance but also intrigues and perplexes him.