The Herod in Each of Us


A tiny child is born, who is a great king. Wise men are led to him from afar. They come to adore one who lies in a manger and yet reigns in heaven and on earth. When they tell of one who is born a king, Herod is disturbed. To save his kingdom he resolves to kill him, though if he would have faith in the child, he himself would reign in peace in this life and for ever in the life to come.

Why are you afraid, Herod, when you hear of the birth of a king? He does not come to drive you out, but to conquer the devil. But because you do not understand this you are disturbed and in a rage, and to destroy one child whom you seek, you show your cruelty in the death of so many children.   ~From a sermon by Saint Quodvultdeus, bishop; Office of Readings December 28, Feast of the Holy Innocents

There is a little Herod in all of us, isn't there? Jesus comes to us. He asks us to do things for Him; He tells us we cannot do other things. He closes doors and then opens windows so small and out of reach we wonder how we could ever pass through them. We beg all sorts of things of Him in prayer, things we are certain are just what we need--  the answer, kind and firm, is "No."

And we rage against Him.

We see Him as a threat to all things that could bring happiness. Tiny Baby. Gentleness incarnate. And we rage. And we struggle. And yes, we kill. We destroy peace. We destroy joy. We slaughter childlike faith. All because we think we know better. We are so afraid of relinquishing our own wills, that we miss the one thing that will give us genuine peace. 

We miss the Baby in the Manger. 

He gathers up the helpless and the small and the weak and the frail and He takes them to Himself. But those that rise up on their own strength and rage against Him? They are left spent and exhausted, wearied to the bone by the efforts of exerting their own will. 

All because they are afraid of the Baby in the Manger, afraid to yield to the plan He has. Afraid to become little so that He can become great in their souls. Afraid to let go and let Him be king.

Baby Jesus, I am small and weak and one of my greatest frailties is the inability to recognize that I am nothing without you. Help me to cease striving. Help me to see the great gift of grace You give so freely and to recognize that those Holy Innocents had no merits of their own. Please, Jesus, grant me the peace that comes with truly knowing that we don't win anything; the only true victory is the victory that comes when we yield everything to the man-God hanging on the cross.