September 25 - Thursday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time
Our passage opens with Herod the Tetrarch hearing about and wondering who Jesus was. This is Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, who was ruling at the time when Jesus was born. Herod Antipas ruled over Galilee and Persia from 4BC to AD 39. His official title, Tetrarch, means “ruler of a quarter” of the territory his father ruled.
Herod was curious to know about Jesus concerning whom he was hearing so much. Let us hope that more of us would be curious to know more about Jesus. This would lead us to meditate at greater length on his words and actions. We would want to spend more time being with him present in the tabernacles in our churches.
Some thought that Jesus was actually John the Baptist who had risen from the dead. At one time Herod himself thought that Jesus might be John the Baptist whom he had beheaded but now risen from the dead (Mk 6:16). His conscience must have bothered him greatly for having executed that holy man. Herod was also superstitious.
Others thought that Jesus might be Elijah. God had promised through the prophet Malachi that he would send Elijah before the day of the Lord to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers (Mal 3:23-24). Jesus actually explained this passage by saying that Elijah had already come in John the Baptist but they did not recognize him and had done to him everything they wished (Mt 17:11-12).
Some people also thought that perhaps Jesus was one of the ancient prophets who had returned from the dead. Some thought that Jesus might be The Prophet that Moses spoke about. He said, “A prophet like me will the Lord your God, raise up for you from among your own kinsmen; to him you shall listen” (Deut 18:15).
Herod had reached the conclusion that Jesus was not John the Baptist. He had beheaded him: he was no longer around. So he was anxious to meet Jesus. He kept trying to see him. He was curious. His hardened heart was simply curious to see Jesus. One day he would get his chance, but Jesus kept silent and would not satisfy his curiosity (Lk 23:6-9).