O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Lord of creation,
whose glory is around and within us:
open our eyes to your wonders,
that we may serve you with reverence
and know your peace at our lives’ end,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.
Let Israel rejoice in their maker;
let the children of Zion be joyful in their king.
Let them praise his name in the dance;
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and lyre.
For the Lord has pleasure in his people
and adorns the poor with salvation.
Let the faithful be joyful in glory;
let them rejoice in their ranks,
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.
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.
Herod … was perplexed … and he tried to see him.
Like most other motorists, I have often found myself sitting in a traffic jam. As the long procession of vehicles has crawled through the point where some incident has taken place, I have experienced that common frustration of wondering what caused the hold up. The police tell us that much of the delay is caused by those who slow down just to look at the breakdown or accident that was probably cleared away some considerable time ago. So many motorists, like Herod, are perplexed and then they try to see. They do not want to become ‘involved’, they just want to ‘see’.
Similar situations arise when people clamour to catch sight of a person who has been dubbed a celebrity by the media. I remember seeing parts of London coming to a standstill because, in three or four hours time, a pop or sports star was due to make a fleeting appearance. Again, we try to see.
If you are one of those who slow down the traffic in an attempt to satisfy your curiosity, or if you are one of those who feel compelled to join the throng that needs to be in the presence of a particular person for a few seconds, let me ask you a question: Why?
Today we read of Herod being perplexed by Jesus. The rumour mill suggested that John the Baptist, whom Herod had had executed, or one of the ancient prophets had come back from the dead. Others were telling a different story: a story that might mean a challenge to Herod’s kingship. We should not be surprised that he tried to see him. Herod had many questions to ask. Herod wanted to see for himself.
What about us, though? Does the life, death and resurrection not leave us perplexed? Don’t the tales of his miraculous signs and acts of healing leave us wanting to see for ourselves? Are we not the same as Herod in these needs?
Of course, Herod did not understand what was going on in his own time. We do not have that excuse. Herod was overcome with curiosity and a need for explanations. We have the answers Herod sought but we, so often, dismiss what we see and hear as nonsensical rubbish, nothing with which we need to bother ourselves. We direct our curiosity towards the modern culture of celebrity instead.
Let us pray that we might seek out Jesus and trust that he will guide us along the narrow way which leads to God. Let us pray that we might not be diverted from the path of true discipleship by our human weakness. Let us pray that we might, as we come to know Jesus, take his love into our daily lives, showing others that the answers are there for all of us … we just have to ask the question!
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
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.
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.