O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
defend your Church from all false teaching
and give to your people knowledge of your truth,
that we may enjoy eternal life
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord, you have been our refuge
from one generation to another.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or the earth and the world were formed,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You turn us back to dust and say:
‘Turn back, O children of earth.’
For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday,
which passes like a watch in the night.
You sweep them away like a dream;
they fade away suddenly like the grass.
In the morning it is green and flourishes;
in the evening it is dried up and withered.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
Reading: Luke 9.7-9
Herod the ruler heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. Herod said, ‘John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?’ And he tried to see him.
This is the word of the Lord.
Yesterday’s reading challenged us to follow the path of true discipleship. Today’s reading exemplifies the common human response to God’s call.
Herod was a ruthless ruler who would stop at nothing to protect his position of power. He compromised with the occupying Roman forces and brutally crushed those of his own people who opposed him. But … he was also curious.
Herod knew of Jesus. He had heard of his teaching and healing. He recognized the affinity between Jesus and John the Baptist, who he had had executed on a whim. But … Herod was curious.
Herod recognized that Jesus was different from John. Herod made connections between Jesus and the prophets of old. But … Herod remained curious. In fact, we read that Herod tried to see him.
What would such an encounter have been like, I wonder? Would Herod have become a faithful disciple, repenting of all his evil ways, or would he have dismissed Jesus as a charlatan? Would Herod have come close to following Jesus’ teaching, or would he have considered the sacrifice of power and wealth as too high a price to pay?
The questions that would have confronted Herod are questions that challenge us every day of our lives. We can all see that Jesus is special, that Jesus is unique, that Jesus wants us to draw closer to him. But … we can also see, as Herod could, that following Jesus is costly. To follow Jesus is to set aside self-interest, pride and greed. To follow Jesus is to be ready to put ourselves at the back of the queue, and most definitely not at the front.
We all know people who want to meet Jesus, or rather, who say they want to meet Jesus. We also recognize the fear of meeting Jesus in the eyes and hearts of those people. But … while we are observing this in others, have we noticed our own attitude to Jesus? We profess the Christian faith, we say we are followers of Jesus, but how do we respond to his call? What limitations do we impose, and what red lines do we draw?
Where are we in the gospel narrative? Are we amidst the disciples or are we standing alongside Herod?
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray to God whose righteousness is made known by his mighty word and works.
Keep your Church, called to be your messenger on earth and the channel of your grace, in faithful service of the Gospel. Defend her in adversity and give to your priests and ministers courage to witness in word and deed.
Turn the hearts of those who misuse their power over others. Bring hope and freedom to the places where people live in fear of tyranny and injustice.
As we have been made members of your family by adoption, bless our human families with your continual presence. Guide us to follow the way that you have prepared for us in all our relationships with others.
Have mercy on all how suffer for the sake of truth. Comfort those who are unjustly imprisoned and those who have been brought by human judgement into the shadow of death.
Have mercy on all who have died violently and alone. Grant them the peace that was denied them at their end and bring them to the joy of your heavenly Kingdom.
May the courage and fidelity of John the Baptist be our example as we pray.
Prayer for the week
you have taught us to pray to you as ‘Our Father’:
help us to see the world through your eyes,
and to love our neighbours with your love.
Show us how we can share with them
the knowledge and joy of our faith,
that they may be brought closer to you,
and enjoy the perfect freedom of your kingdom.
We make our prayer in the name of Jesus Christ,
our Lord and our God.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
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.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
For the love of God is broader
than the measure of our mind,
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
But we make his love too narrow
by false limits of our own;
and we magnify his strictness
with a zeal he would not own.
If our love were but more simple,
we should take him at his word;
and our lives would be all gladness
in the joy of Christ our Lord.
Frederick William Faber (1814–1863)