Grace and Peace to you.
When Herod heard [of Jesus’ disciples
healing and casting out demons]
he said, ”John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”
Herod has it all: cynicism, selfishness, lasciviousness, sexual abuse, cruelty, violence and the abuse of power. He uses people, even his daughter. But. He’s actually afraid. He likes to listen to John the baptizer—for entertainment, not for transformation. Maybe he’s attracted because John speaks with such power. All the more necessary, then, to have absolute power over John. Yet in his power he’s trapped. He’s afraid of his guests, afraid of his wife, obligated to his daughter, even afraid of the corner he’s painted himself into. And even after he has killed John, Herod realizes that he’s also still afraid of John, afraid of some power that transcends his own, that transcends even death.
That’s the context of our ministry, the context of resurrection. Resurrection isn’t about the happy reunion with your loved ones in the afterlife; that comes later. Resurrection is God’s answer to fear and violence in this life. We either live by the rules of Herod—the rule of fear and violence, and the necessary devaluation of others—or we live by the power of resurrection, the power of love, which transcends not just mortality but violence, cynicism and fear.
God sends us to do the work of healing, to cast out out demons of fear and violence, demons of cynicism, domination and racism, demons of the love of money and power. In that work we will suffer the anger of those powers. Those who work for justice will be silenced, punished, jailed, and worse. Our prayers go out for all people who are political prisoners, who are tortured, who are used, who are silenced. But they, and we, are sustained by a greater power. Even in our powerlessness and suffering our love is raised up into an infinite blessing. We know resurrection. God energizes us with love to confront the powers and even to suffer injustice and answer it with resurrection, with love that transcends fear and violence, and even suffering and death.
With all his power, Herod is afraid. But in the spirit of the Crucified and Risen One, we are not afraid.