Thursday of the Twenty-FifthWeek in Ordinary Time
The doubts of the non-believer
Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead”; others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”; still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.” But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him. Lk 9,7-9
The doubts of Herod, in this page of the gospel, are the doubts on the matter about who is Jesus: is he a prophet, although greater than Elijah and John the Baptist or is he something more? The evangelist Luke locates this passage just before those of the multiplication of the loaves and of the confession of Peter, two events in which, in a different way, we can find the answer to the doubts of Herod. He does not understand, because he identifies Jesus with the figures of the past: great characters, but who do no longer exist. This is the only logical answer which the men and the history can give. Being able to recognize Jesus as Lord, alive and present, is the difficulty of every man who has heard of: also of the christian today. Even the first disciples at the end of the gospel have fallen in the error of identifying the person who is living with the one who is dead. “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?” (Lk 24,5) ask the two angels to the women present at the tomb by the next morning of his burial. Even today there is great difficulty in understanding in “deep” the message of resurrection and all those who transmit it are killed, sometimes also in the reality, unless then to praise them after the death, when they are no longer troublesome. “John, I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”, Herod is repeating obsessively, without reaching to the answer. “And he kept trying to see him”. the evangelist Luke annotates. But his trial to see him is not to find the truth, as does Zacchaeus who, to well discern Jesus, climbs up even on a sycamore tree. His desire to see him is to find in him the traits of the normality and, ultimately, not to let him being born in himself. It is also the way which today many people of culture have to approach the gospel: they search the less demanding normality, rather than the truth. And they end up in finding this normality which they seek, as the man who goes into the wood to gather chestnuts and he does not recognize the mushrooms.